PAU, France - The Tour de France was rocked on Tuesday when Luxembourg's Frank Schleck, third overall in last year's race, was pulled out of the 2012 edition after failing a dope test for a diuretic.
|RadioShack-Nissan rider Frank Schleck of Luxembourg cycles during a training ride ahead of the 99th Tour de France cycling race in Liege in this June 29, 2012 file photo. Photo by Stephane Mahe, Reuters.
The older of the Schleck brothers -- Andy won the Tour two years ago -- rides for RadioShack-Nissan and was in 12th place, nine minutes and 45 seconds behind leader Bradley Wiggins.
"After being informed by the UCI about the presence of Xipamide in the urine sample of Frank Schleck on July 14, the team has decided to immediately withdraw Frank Schleck from the Tour de France," RadioShack-Nissan said in a statement.
RadioShack said Schleck had gone willingly to the police station and the team hotel had not been searched, although witnesses said uniformed and plain clothes police officers were on patrol in front of the building in Pau on Tuesday evening.
The doping test took place after the 13th stage on July 14 when traces of the “specified drug Xipamide were found in Schleck's urine.
"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," RadioShack added.
According to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regulations: "A specified substance is a substance which allows, under defined conditions, for a greater reduction of a two-year sanction when an athlete tests positive for that particular substance."
RadioShack was the outfit of seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong who, along with team manager Johan Bruyneel, is involved in a doping investigation launched by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Both men deny any wrongdoing.
The news on the second rest day came as another blow for the Tour given the stature of Schleck, on the podium last year behind his brother who was himself handed the 2010 Tour title after Spaniard Alberto Contador was stripped of his yellow jersey on doping grounds.
Last year, Russian Alexandr Kolobnev left the Tour for a similar offence and was later cleared by his federation.
On the first Tour rest day last week, France's Remy Di Gregorio was arrested in his team hotel in Bourg en Bresse and put under investigation for possession of illegal medical devices. He was released on probation and denied any wrongdoing.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris; To query or comment on this story email [email protected])