Tour de France rider Schleck fails doping test. AP via Chron.com
The RadioShack Nissan Trek team pulled Frank Schleck, one of the biggest names in pro cycling, out of the Tour de France on Tuesday after he failed a doping test, threatening to overshadow Bradley Wiggins' bid to win the three-week race in Paris this weekend. The 32-year-old rider from Luxembourg, who was third in last year's Tour, left a police station in Pau where he had discussed the case with authorities after cycling's governing body announced the positive test.The drug that he tested positive for was Xipamide, which is a diuretic and a known masking agent for steroids. Of course, Schleck claims innocence and claims that he was poisoned. He has requested his "B" sample be tested as per normal procedure.
For those of you unfamiliar with the procedure, the "B" sample will be tested and it it comes back negative that's it, case over. If it comes back positive then Frank Schleck will have a right to state his case in front of the UCI (Cycling's governing body) which will then vote on his guilt/innocence and issue his penalty, probably a fine and ban from racing for a period of time.
Not really mentioned in the article is the very real possibility that Schleck will face criminal prosecution in France, which has passed a passel of tough anti-doping laws over the years in response to illegal substances being found in it's biggest sporting event.
With drug testing, under WADA standards, the standard assumption is "guilty until proven innocent". It's very rare for an athlete to present a good case that he didn't inject the substance unknowingly (i.e. 'poisoned') or through benign methods (i.e. tainted meat) at a level that will convince the anti-doping board they're clean.
It's another black eye for cycling, which is not a huge sport in the US but which is very big in parts of Europe. I know I'll be watching le Tour coverage tonight on NBC Sports if only to watch the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the commentators.