Luca Paolini suspended for 18 months for positive cocaine test

Veteran Italian rider Luca Paolini has been banned for 18 months following a positive test for cocaine at last year’s Tour de France.

The 39-year-old was provisionally suspended and removed from the race on July 10, having failed a doping control after the fourth stage three days earlier.

Paolini, now 39, was found guilty by the Tribunal of “a non-intentional anti-doping rule violation” and was declared ineligible for 18-months. It was not stated as to whether this ban would be backdated to the time of the positive test.

Having been provisionally suspended by the UCI and Katusha, Paolini admitted to having a sleeping medication addiction, which later resulted in him taking cocaine alone at a pre-Tour training camp.

Katusha reportedly knew about his addiction to the sleeping medication. In order to fight off the drowsiness caused by the pills, Paolini would reportedly drink more and more coffee before a race in order to wake up.

Should the ban be back-dated to July, Paolini would be eligible to return in early 2017 – by which time he will be 40 years old.