Charges against Cyclist Tom Boonen relating to a positive test for cocaine use were today dropped by a Belgian court on the basis that he had “been punished enough”. The Quick-Step rider reacted to the news by winning tuesday's stage of the Tour of Qatar, landing himself the leader's jersey in the race.
Boonen landed in trouble after an out of competition doping control last June confirmed cocaine use – the coke bust cost Boonen his place in the 2008 Tour de France. The court decided his exclusion from the Tour was a big enough penalty. Boonen undoubtedly lost out financially by not being at the Tour and by being forced to ride in lesser races during the season.
As a result of the failed dope test he faced a criminal investigation for cocaine possession which can carry a jail term in Belgium and also a large fine. The rider is a massive star in Belgium – where he has been compared to the cycling equivalent of David Beckham, and given his status the outcome of the case was not a surprise.
When the dope test was first made public Boonen apologised to fans but has never admitted taking cocaine – he has never denied it either.
Boonen is currently riding the Tour of Qatar with his Quick-Step team. Talking to the Associated Press after the court gave out its verdict Quick-Step directeur sportif, Patrick Lefevere said: "Tom has been punished in public and financially. We hope it has been a lesson for him,"
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.