Boonen could face trial in Belgium

Updated: January 6, 2009, 8:10 AM ET
Reuters

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Belgian authorities will decide next month whether former world cycling champion Tom Boonen will face trial after testing positive for cocaine last year.

A decision will be announced on Feb. 3, a spokeswoman for the Belgian city of Turnhout prosecutor's office said after Boonen's closed-door hearing on Tuesday.

An out-of-competition doping test conducted between two races last May found traces of the drug in the 28-year-old rider's urine sample, leading to the Belgian rider being barred from the 2008 Tour de France.

The spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the rider, who become a local hero after winning the world championship in 2005, could face a jail sentence, a fine, or both.

Previously, prosecutors have said he could face anything between three months and five years in prison.

The Quick Step rider did not refer to the drugs issue in a news conference he gave last June after local prosecutors confirmed they were investigating him for suspected cocaine possession. Boonen said merely that he was "not perfect."