Schleck controversy deepens RadioShack woes

Luxembourg's Frank Schleck rides in the fourteenth stage of the 2012 Tour de France on July 15. The future of RadioShack cycling team was placed further into doubt Tuesday after leading rider Schleck quit the Tour de France following a positive test for a banned diuretic

The future of RadioShack cycling team was placed further into doubt Tuesday after leading rider Frank Schleck quit the Tour de France following a positive test for a banned diuretic. Schleck, considered one of the best climbing specialists in the peloton, finished third overall last year one place behind his younger brother Andy, the 2010 champion. He was pulled out of the race by RadioShack after the International Cycling Union (UCI) said a urine sample taken on July 14 had returned an "Adverse Analytical Finding" for Xipamide. He was questioned after voluntarily going to a local police office in Pau, at the foot of the French Pyrenees, before leaving before 1130 pm local time. RadioShack later said Schleck "would be suspended" if a B sample also tested positive. Diuretics are not considered performance-enhancing but can be used to help riders lose weight, and therefore perform better in the tough mountain stages of the race. More ominously, they can also conceal the presence of a banned drug by helping to flush it from the body through increased urination. Xipamide, a diuretic, is normally used for the treatment of oedema and hypertension. However whether Schleck is cleared or not, the news will not be welcomed by a team already fighting on several fronts. Announced in 2009 as the newest team on the peloton for 2010 by now retired champion Lance Armstrong, RadioShack have been in the news for all the wrong reasons this year. Their manager Johan Bruyneel, who led Armstrong to his seven yellow jersey titles and boasts another two race wins with Alberto Contador, stayed away from the race this year. Belgian national Bruyneel is one of six people including Armstrong accused by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) of being part of a major doping conspiracy. Both Armstrong and Bruyneel proclaim their innocence and Bruyneel recently stated his intention to fight the accusations in front of an arbitration hearing. "I can confirm that I have requested an arbitration hearing in which I will contest USADA's accusations against me," Bruyneel announced on his website The team's other extra-racing dilemma has centred on claims that several leading riders had not been paid their salaries. A recent report in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said the Schleck brothers and Swiss Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara had complained to the International Cycling Union (UCI) over unpaid salaries. According to the report the Schlecks are "owed around 500,000 Euros" and that Dane Jakob Fuglsang is owed 150,000 euros. Neither Andy Schleck nor Fuglsang are racing the Tour. The team's management company, Leopard, confirmed in the report that the Schlecks and Cancellara had complained to the UCI. However a spokesman for Leopard, Carlo Rock, told the newspaper the company had held around one-quarter of what is owed to the riders because the riders had asked the payment to be made "to accounts with non-transparent backgrounds". He added: "We must be sure that we do not support money laundering." On the road, things have not been much better. The Schleck brothers are considered among the hottest properties in the peloton thanks to their climbing ability. However since joining up with Bruyneel at RadioShack they have mainly flattered to deceive. Both brothers had a disappointing start to the 2012 season and Frank Schleck was sent to race the Giro d'Italia by Bruyneel against his own wishes. He crashed out a week before the finish, only for Bruyneel to openly question the seriousness of his shoulder injury. Andy Schleck is not racing the Tour because of injuries sustained in a crash at the Criterium du Dauphine last month.

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