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by Shane Stokes
December 17, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
It’s been five months without any news on the Luca Paolini doping case from this year’s Tour de France but, finally, it appears that there is some movement happening.
On July 10 it was announced that the Italian rider had tested positive for the cocaine metabolite Benzoylecgonine in a random sample taken four days earlier, after the finish in Cambrai.
Now, after months of silence, the governing body issued a statement on Wednesday, giving an update on the case.
“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that it has referred Mr. Luca Paolini’s case to the UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal,” it said.
“The tribunal shall hear Mr. Paolini’s case and render a judgment in accordance with the Tribunal Procedural Rules. The decision will be published in due course on the UCI website.”
It added that it would not comment further.
Announced in September 2014, the UCI anti-doping tribunal was set up in order to avoid national bodies passing judgements that could be favourable to the athletes in question. It was also intended to speed up the process.
The UCI said at the time that it would begin operation at some point in 2015.
While the Paolini case should have come under that jurisdiction, the reason for the delay hasn’t been stated. After months without a final conclusion, Wednesday’s announcement will hopefully lead to a decision soon on the matter.
Paolini is 38 years of age and turned professional with Mapei in 2002. He has raced with the Quick Step, Liquigas, Acqua & Sapone and Katusha teams and his wins include stages in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, as well as one day triumphs in the Giro del Piemonte, Brabantse Pijl and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
He won Gent-Wevelgem earlier this year.
Under the WADA Code, cocaine is only banned when it is used in competition. Paolini’s defence – if he fights the case – may hinge on trying to show that the substance entered his system prior to the race start.