Paolini, 38, returned a positive test for cocaine (Benzoylecgonine metabolite) in a sample collected in an in-competition control on 7 July 2015 during the Tour de France and was subsequently suspended by his team and the UCI.
The Italian has returned home to Italy where he is awaiting the results of the B-sample. His teammtaes, who include Alexandre Kristoff and Joaquim Rodriguez will continue in the race, having already won a stage courtesy of Rodriguez.
Speakin outside the Katusha team bus, general manager Viatcheslav Ekimov told reporters that the team would concentrate on racing matters while the anti-doping authorities analyse Paolini’s B-sample.
“For sure he doesn’t know what way it happened exactly. I didn’t have time to talk too much to Luca, we were 15 or 20 minutes in the car but he’s a very important rider, a road captain. The team will unite together. We will separate the issues. The Tour de France is the Tour de France,” Ekimov said.
The Russian stressed that until the B-sample analysis had been returned the team could not comment on the future of Paolini.
“Until the B-sample is open we cannot guess, or we cannot discuss, or we cannot think. We’re waiting for the B-sample before we take a decision and then we can comment.”
When asked if the team wanted to keep Paolini, who recently signed a contract extension, Ekimov said: :I don’t know. It depends on what we will see. I want to know the truth before taking a decision. I don’t know [if he will be fired .ed], I cannot say on what the B-sample shows and it depends on what the decision of the UCI is.”