While Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme took a step down as he announced that ASO will follow the rules in the cases of Tom Boonen and Alejandro Valverde, French minister Bernard Laporte, the state secretary of sport, warned that the two riders are not welcome to take part in the Grande Boucle.
"The fight against drugs and the leading role of France on that matter is a priority," a press release from the Ministry stated. "As a matter of fact, it's clear that the presence of riders like Alejandro Valverde, who has been condemned by the Italian anti-doping authority, and Tom Boonen, who has tested positive for cocaine in April, is not welcome at the 2009 Tour de France."
Strangely, the same French authorities haven't considered Valverde and Boonen unwelcome at the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, another race on French soil in which both are currently competing.
UCI president Pat McQuaid has reiterated that Boonen can legally pursue his career. The disciplinary commission supposed to weigh in on the damage Boonen caused to the image of cycling will not convene before the start of the Tour de France. In Valverde's case, his appeal to the CAS in order to reverse the CONI's decision will be a first indication on whether he'll be able to ride the Tour or not.