“BRUSSELS // A Belgian court has dropped criminal charges against the former world cycling champion Tom Boonen for alleged cocaine use.
The court, in northwestern Turnhout, said Boonen had “been punished enough” after his positive test for cocaine in an out-of-competition doping control kept him out of last year’s Tour de France.
“Tom has been punished in public and financially. We hope it has been a lesson for him,” said Boonen’s Quick-Step team leader Patrick Lefevere.
After being excluded from the Tour de France, Boonen was forced to race in minor competitions such as the Tour of Austria and the Walloon Tour. Boonen was not at Tuesday’s court hearing because he is racing in the Tour of Qatar, where he is currently second in the standings. Boonen has apologised to his fans but never confirmed or denied allegations he had taken cocaine. The cyclist, who has garnered celebrity status in Belgium, had faced a criminal investigation for cocaine possession, which was opened after a drug test came back positive for cocaine last June. (Penalties for possession in Belgium can vary from three months to five years in jail, along with fines of up to US$155,000).