Schleck banned until July

Frank Schleck has been banned from cycling until July 13 after testing positive for the banned diuretic Xipamide at last year's Tour de France.

The RadioShack-Leopard rider, who has always maintained his innocence, received a one-year ban from the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency, but it was backdated to the day of his failed test last summer.

It means he will miss this year's Tour, a race in which he finished third in 2011 and fifth on two other occasions.

The 32-year-old Luxembourg rider was afforded a reduction in the standard two-year ban for doping to one year on the grounds that the drug did not improve his performance.

However, he remained frustrated by the outcome, saying: "I am obviously disappointed with the verdict that has been rendered. I believe that the decision to suspend me for a year is too severe given the fact that the council held that I unwittingly consumed a contaminated product.

"Unfortunately the UCI [International Cycling Union] rules are such that even unintended contamination is sufficient to impose a sanction.

"I am, however, relieved that the judges have recognised that it was not a case of doping and that there was no desire on my part to improve performance. This is very important for me, for my family, my team and all those who support me.

"We will now analyse the decision in detail. I remember, however, a positive element: the judges admitted that I'm not a cheater. "

Schleck has 21 days to mount an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the International Cycling Union and World Anti-Doping Agency can also appeal for the ban to be lengthened.

The news is a serious blow to his younger brother, Andy, who had hoped to be able to count on Frank's help in his bid to win a second Tour win this summer.

Frank tested positive at the end of stage 13 of last year's Tour in Cap d'Adge, with RadioShack confirming the news at the second rest day three days later in Pau.

He requested his B sample be tested, but that result also came back positive.

Xipamide is not performance-enhancing, but can be used as a masking agent for other drugs.