BRIVE-LA-GAILLARDE, France (AFP) — Fränk Schleck is facing a possible suspension after his B sample confirmed a positive test for a banned diuretic.
Schleck, who finished third in the 2011 Tour de France, quit this year’s race in disgrace Tuesday after the UCI said he had tested positive for xipamide.
Although Schleck has proclaimed his innocence and said he will fight to find out how the substance got into his system, the UCI has asked his federation to take disciplinary action against the rider.
“In accordance with the anti-doping rules, the UCI will request the Luxembourg Federation opens a disciplinary procedure against the rider,” said a UCI statement.
Although under UCI rules the 32-year-old could have continued in the race, his embattled RadioShack team sent him home on the second rest day.
Diuretics are not considered performance-enhancing but can be used to help riders lose weight and therefore perform better in the tough mountain stages of the race. They can also conceal the presence of a banned drug by helping to flush it from the body through increased urination. Xipamide is normally used for the treatment of edema and hypertension.
After witnessing the analysis at the laboratory in Chatenay-Malabry, France, Schleck said: “The result of the counter test was positive but for me nothing changes: I just know that I did nothing wrong! I will therefore continue my search to find out how the substance could have entered my body.
“At the moment we are analyzing minute by minute what exactly I have been doing, eating, drinking on the days before the control and on July 14 itself, who I met, what materials I came in contact with, what nutritional supplements I took.”
Because Xipamide falls into a special category of substances under the World Anti-Doping Code called “specified substances,” Schleck has a chance to prove his innocence.
The code states that if an athlete can establish that the use of a specified substance was not intended to enhance sport performance, a first violation can draw anything from a reprimand to a one-year ban. A second violation would bring a two-year ban, while a third violation would incur a lifetime ban.
Schleck’s statement added: “The medical world states that this product, when performing in extreme conditions such as in a cycling tour, is very dangerous; it can even cause death.
“Therefore I really need to find out how this product ended up in my system: Since I didn’t take anything, I assume it must have been given to me by someone, or it could have happened through an accidental contamination, or it could be caused by something that is not yet known to me since we are still undertaking a number of analyses.”