Quick Step sprinter Tom Boonen may escape face criminal charges stemming from his 2008 out-of-competition positive test for cocaine use, Het Nieuwsblad reported Saturday. The word comes from prosecutors who gave the Belgian a suspended sentence for the incident, stating that being denied participation in that year's Tour de France was punishment enough.
The decision was contingent on Boonen remaining drug-free for three years. Despite breaking his probation with a second cocaine positive on April 25, 2009, the prosecutors have not yet decided whether they will pursue him for last year's offense.
Boonen has been denied entry into the Tour de France for the second consecutive year due to cocaine use. The Tour organiser ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) made it clear that Boonen is not welcome in its race, but team Quick Step has threatened to take legal action to ensure their star sprinter can participate.
The International Cycling Union has stated that it would not pursue disciplinary action against the rider for his positive tests, since cocaine is not banned out of competition.
Belgian organisers of the post-Tour Broker Criterium have said that whatever the outcome, Boonen will be welcome at their event. The race's President Denis Bolle objected to what he said are double standards of the ASO. A press release by the race pointed out that the decision goes against the European Social Charter and an individual's right to work.
"May I point out that other European countries are not even reporting out-of-competition cocaine positives? If Boonen was a Frenchman, then the ASO would have no case against Boonen."
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