Frank Schleck will miss the 2013 Tour de France after being handed a one-year backdated ban for a positive doping test at last year’s race.
Schleck, who finished third overall in the 2011 Tour, tested positive for the diuretic Xipamide following the 13th stage. The Radioshack-Leopard-Trek rider, who subsequently withdrew from the race, denies knowingly taking a banned substance.
The 32-year-old’s ban has been backdated to July 14 2012, the day after the positive test, and will expire midway through the 100th edition of the Tour de France, which starts on June 29 in Corsica.
“Of course I am disappointed by the verdict that has just been announced,” said Schleck . “I think that the decision to suspend me during one year is too severe considering the fact that the council acknowledged that I unintentionally consumed a contaminated product.
“Unfortunately the provisions of the UCI are such that an involuntary contamination is sufficient in order to pronounce a punishment.
“We will now analyse the decision in detail and decide on potential further steps. However I bear a positive aspect of the decision in mind – the judges acknowledged that I am not a cheater.”
Schleck faced a two-year ban but, in its reasoned decision, the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency said it decided to hand the two-time Tour stage winner a one-year ban on grounds of proportional punishment as it was Schleck’s first doping offence.
Schleck can appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, while the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency can also contest the decision if they feel a longer ban is required.