July 10, 2015 – Italian rider Luca Paolini has failed a doping test at the Tour de France, his Katusha team said Friday. The 38-year-old tested positive for cocaine, which is not banned out of competition but is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of doping substances in competition.

AFP/Yuzuru Sunada

Katusha spokesman Philippe Maertens told AFP the team had found out Friday evening that Paolini had tested positive on Tuesday, after the fourth stage. He has been removed from the Tour by his Russian team.

“Paolini tested positive for cocaine on July 7,” Maertens told AFP by telephone. “The team decided to remove him from the Tour. We were told at the beginning of the evening (about the result). We’re very surprised because cocaine is not a substance that improves performance.” Maertens added that the team would be issuing an official statement shortly.

Paolini won the prestigious cobbled classic race Gent-Wevelgem in April, perhaps the best result of his career and coming at the age of 38.

He won a stage at the Vuelta a Espana in 2006 and another at the Giro d’Italia in 2013. He also won a couple of semi-classic one day races, Brabantse Pijl in 2004 and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2013.