Schleck Claims Poisoning at Tour
In 2011, there were two Schlecks riding in the Tour de France. At the beginning of 2012’s race, there was one. By Stage 16, there were none.
Frank Schleck, who finished third in last year’s race and had been in 12th place after Monday's Stage 15, was notified by the UCI on Tuesday night that he tested positive for Xipamide, a banned diuretic. While official rules state that Schleck could have continued, his RadioShack team immediately pulled him from the race.
Early Wednesday morning, Schleck denied having taken the banned substance and asked for a second sample to be taken. Since, he has stated that he will lodge a formal poisoning complaint if the second analysis comes back positive.
While a diuretic seems like an odd substance to be banned (child’s play compared to the blood doping that Lance is accused of), it’s garnered its place on the blacklist both by helping athletes clean their bodies of other performance-enhancing drugs more quickly and/or by causing them to shed weight, a potential advantage during grueling mountain stages like those the Tour is currently passing through in the Pyrenees.
But hope for Schleck’s innocence is still afloat. Team spokesman Philippe Maertens said that Schleck reacted with incredulity. “I saw his face when he heard the news… he went very pale. It wasn’t the face of someone who’s guilty.”
While rumors of doping have circulated around Frank Schleck before, this is the first time he's ever failed a drug test.