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Lars Boom to start Tour de France despite failing cortisol health test

Astana break MPCC rules to retain rider in line-up

Dutch rider, Lars Boom, is to start the Tour de France despite failing a cortisol test. Boom, who won last year’s cobbled stage, should have been removed from the Astana team according to the rules of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC). Sky Sports reports that this has not happened, throwing the team’s continued membership of the group into serious doubt.

Boom posted an abnormally low cortisol level after UCI tests on all riders due to take part in the 2015 race. The team duly notified MPCC, a voluntary self-regulatory body and a statement on the group’s website reads:

“Following the cortisol level tests carried out by the UCI on all the riders competing in the 2015 Tour de France, MPCC has received notice of the anonymous results of its 14 team members starting the race, on Friday afternoon.

“Its results having shown an abnormally low cortisol level, Team Astana has immediately reported Roger Legeay, President of MPCC, the identity of the rider concerned (Lars Boom).

“According to article 9 of MPCC regulation, in case of abnormally low cortisol levels, competition will resume after an additional 8-day rest minimum, and back-to-normal cortisol levels.

“MPCC would like to remind that cortisol level tests are carried out within the framework of health, not antidoping.”

Although low cortisol levels can be indicative of cortisone use, they may also signal a health problem or fatigue, which is why MPCC demands that riders rest. Treatment with cortisone – which can result in low cortisol levels – is permitted for medical reasons, but in these circumstances MPCC rules again demand that the rider takes eight days rest.

According to L’Equipe, Astana asked the UCI whether they could replace Boom, but the request was denied because the test results arrived after the cut-off point for registration of riders.

It therefore seems that Boom will ride. UCI president Brian Cookson explained that the Dutchman has a healthy and permissible level of cortisol according to UCI standards

"Lars Boom has not broken any UCI or Wada rules, the issue of cortisol and cortisone has been referred to Wada's scientific experts and at the present moment they have not recommended we or anyone else take action to include that within our rules.

"It's not included in the Wada rules so I can say Lars Boom is free to start the Tour de France under UCI rules, he hasn't broken any rules."

However, Astana’s decision does mean that the team are highly likely to exit the MPCC. Last month, both Bardiani-CSF and Lotto NL-Jumbo also left the group after taking issue with its rules on cortisol levels.

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