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Luca Paolini receives 18-month doping ban

Former Katusha rider tested positive for cocaine during last year's Tour de France...

Italian cyclist Luca Paolini has been banned for 18 months after testing positive for cocaine at last year’s Tour de France.

The former Katusha rider, aged 39, admitted in December last year to having used cocaine after initially becoming addicted to sleeping pills following the death of his brother in 2004.

He said he took cocaine while on a pre-Tour de France training camp in June.

The UCI announced the decision of its Anti-Doping Tribunal today, four months after it had referred the case and nine months after Paolini’s positive test.

It said: “The Anti-Doping Tribunal found the rider guilty of a non-intentional anti-doping rule violation (presence of a cocaine metabolite - benzoylecgonine) and imposed an 18-month period of ineligibility on the rider.”

In this context, “non-intentional” signifies that Paolini was found not to be seeking a competitive advantage, rather than he did not deliberately mean to take cocaine, which is only banned in competition.

The UCI said that it would publish the full decision shortly.

Earlier in 2015, Paolini had won Gent-Wevelgem, perhaps the biggest success in a career in which he has also won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and a stage apiece in the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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