Rennes: Italian rider Luca Paolini has failed a doping test at the Tour de France, his Katusha team said on 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.

Katusha rider Luca Paolini. PIC/AFP
Katusha rider Luca Paolini. Pic/AFP

Katusha spokesman Philippe Maertens told AFP the team had found out on Friday evening that Paolini had tested positive on Tuesday, after the fourth stage.

The Russian team immediately removed him from the Tour. “We’re very surprised because cocaine is not a substance that improves performance,” said Maertens.

Paolini later apologised to Tour organisers and his own team but neither admitted to the offence nor denied it in a long post on Twitter.