Fränk Schleck has requested a test of his B sample after the UCI announced on Tuesday evening that he had tested positive for a diuretic substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) from a urine sample taken last Saturday 14 July, the day of Stage 13 of the Tour de France. The RadioShack-Nissan rider, whose team has withdrawn him from the race, says that should his B sample also test positive, he will file complaint against persons unknown for "poisoning." Should the B sample confirm the results of the A sample, Schleck will likely face immediate suspension, to be followed by disciplinary proceedings.
The Luxembourg TV station RTL published a link on its website to a statement in French from Schleck released on Tuesday evening in which he said: “A UCI doctor has just informed me this evening that a banned substance was detected in my urine during a routine anti-doping control.
“I formally contest having taken any banned substance whatsoever,” added Schleck, who said that he would ask for the B sample to be tested, as is his right. “If this analysis should confirm the first result,” he went on, “complaint will be filed against [persons] unknown for poisoning.”
The substance in question is the diuretic Xipamide, a prescription medicine that is not in itself performance enhancing but which may be employed to mask use of other banned substances, with the drug potentially used to help flush traces of those from the body, for example prior to a doping control. While Xipamide is not specifically mentioned in WADA's prohibited list, diuretics, with some exceptions (none of which apply in this case) are banned.
In a statement released on Tuesday evening, the UCI said: "Earlier today, the UCI advised the Luxembourger rider Frank Schleck of an adverse analytical finding (presence of the diuretic Xipamide...) in the urine sample collected from him at an in competition test at the Tour de France on 14 July 2012."
The statement, issued prior to confirmation by RadioShack-Nissan that Schleck, aged 32, would play no further part in the Tour, added:
"The UCI is confident that his team will take the necessary steps to enable the Tour de France to continue in serenity,”
The UCI's statement concluded by saying that by removing Schleck from the race, his team would help ensure "that their rider has the opportunity to properly prepare his defence in particular within the legal timeline, which allows four days for him to have his B sample analyzed.”
A statement issued by Schleck's RadioShack-Nissan team said: Our team attaches great value to transparency. Because of this, we can announce the following as a response to the adverse analytical finding of xipamide in Fränk Schleck's urine sample of July 14 during the Tour de France.
"After being informed by the UCI about the presence of xipamide in the urine sample of Fränk Schleck on July 14, the team has decided to immediately withdraw Fränk Schleck from the Tour de France.
"Even though an abnormal A sample does not require these measures, Mr. Schleck and the team believe this is the right thing to do, to ensure the Tour de France can go on in calm and that Fränk Schleck can prepare his defense in accordance with the legal timing to do so."
It added: "On the subject of xipamide the team can declare the following: it is not a product that is present in any of the medicine that the team uses and the reason for the presence of xipamide in the urine sample of Mr. Schleck is unclear to the team. Therefore, the team is not able to explain the adverse findings at this point.
"However, the team is fully determined to collaborate with the anti-doping agencies in order to resolve the matter," the team concluded.
Schleck, who finished third in last year's Tour de France, lay 12th on the general classification this morning, 9 minutes 45 seconds behind maillot jaune Bradley Wiggins.
Police are reportedly at the RadioShack-Nissan team hotel. Recently, its manager, Johan Bruyneel, who is not at the Tour de France, was charged by the US Anti-Doping Agency regarding allegations unconnected to his current team.
The company that holds the Luxembourg-registered team's licence, Leopard SA, has also been reported to be in financial difficulties in recent days.
As this eveing's news broke, parallels were immediately drawn with the case of Alberto Contador, who gave the urine sample that contained traces of clenbuterol which would lead to his current ban on the second rest day of the 2010 Tour de France, also in Pau.
However, Schleck's urine sample was taken not in Pau, but in Cap d'Agde on Saturday - he was one of six riders selected for testing after the stage, as well as stage winner André Greipel and overall leader Wiggins.
Contador of course was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France victory, with Schleck's younger brother Andy presented with the maillot jaune only last month.
There is also a big difference of course in not just the timing of this anouncement by the UCI compared to the Contador case, but also the way the news broke; the Spaniard himself revealed that he had tested positive for clenbuterol more than two months after the 2010 Tour had finished, after he learnt that the story was about to be broken by Spanish media. The UCI only issued its statement confirming the facts the followiing morning.
As last year, when Katusha's Alexander Kolobnev tested positive during the Tour de France for a different diuretic to the one found in Schleck's urine, the UCI has wasted no time in making the results public in Schleck's case, and as it did 12 months ago urged the rider's team to withdraw him from the race, even though a suspension cannot be imposed until the results of the test on the A sample have been confirmed by the test of the B sample, should the rider request it.
Kolobnev, it should be noted, was eventually found by the Court of Arbitration for Sport not to have doped intentionally - his doctor had recommended he take the drug in question, available as an over-the-counter medicine in the rider's native Russia - in a case brought by the UCI which was seeking a harsher sanction than the fine the Russian cycling federation had imposed on him.
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.