Lars Boom’s Tour de France hopes have hit a barrier. The 2008 Cyclocross World Champion and current Astana professional road racer returned a doping test anomaly for cortisol, a natural steroid hormone produced by the body. The test was carried out by the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling), and 125 other riders were tested without issue.
The AFP reports that Boom’s cortisol level was too low. MPCC tests, unlike WADA tests, do not require the UCI’s Astana to withdraw Boom, but the MPCC, an organization that boasts 13 of the 22 teams as members, requires that the rider “must be rested if he tests positive for a cortisol,” according to the AFP’s report. High levels of cortisol are typically associated with doping, but Boom returned a low level on the “health check.” Update: Astana withdrew from the MPCC to keep Boom in the Tour.
The news is a blow to Astana, which has had a rough year of doping controversies, and was trying to clean up its image as it returns to the Tour in attempt to defend team leader Nibali’s win in 2014. The team’s UCI license was in question earlier this year, but was ultimately maintained by the UCI.
The withdrawal news is also a blow to Lars Boom fans, many who admired his aggressive cyclocross racing against the Belgian contingent before he made the jump to professional road racing. Boom won a cobbled stage in the 2014 Tour de France, and finished fourth in this year’s cobbled Paris-Roubaix classic.