L'Equipe has reported that Katusha's Alexandr Kolobnev has tested positive for a diuretic hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) in the first week of the Tour de France, and has been removed from the race on the first rest day. The positive sample was taken the day of stage 5 on July 6, 2011.
The Russian champion's A sample reportedly showed evidence of the substance, which can be used as a masking agent and is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list. It is the first doping case of the 2011 Tour.
The French newspaper received confirmation of the results of the test performed by the laboratory in Chatenay-Malabry before the rider himself was notified.
The UCI later confirmed the news, but said it will not provisionally suspend the rider because HCT is not a "specified substance". This means the rider can continue to compete, but the UCI press release stated it is "confident that his team will take the necessary steps to enable the Tour de France to continue in serenity and to ensure that their rider has the opportunity to properly prepare his defense in particular within the legal timeline, which allows four days for him to have his B sample analyzed".
In the UCI's anti-doping rules, if a rider can explain how a "specified substance" may have entered his system, he can receive anywhere from a warning and a time penalty of one percent on the stage for which he tested positive to a two-year ban from the sport.
HCT is the same substance for which Belgian track star Iljo Keisse tested positive in 2008. He blamed the result on a contaminated supplement, and was able to convince the Belgian cycling federation not to suspend him. However, the UCI appealed the decision and Keisse was given a two-year suspension by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.