Boonen questioned in Vannoppen drugs probe

Parents' home searched by police

Belgian police this week questioned former world cycling champion Tom Boonen and searched his parents' home as part of a probe into another cyclist.

Boonen's name came up during a police drugs investigation into Belgian cyclo-cross rider Tom Vannoppen.

On Wednesday, Belgian police carried out a search of Boonen's parents' home in the northern town of Retie, a move described by prosecutor Marc Rubens on Friday as simply a routine line of enquiry.

"Mr Boonen himself gave permission for the search to go ahead at his parents' house," where the rider lives when he is in Belgium, Rubens said. "The search offered up nothing," he said, adding that he had called a press conference to "clear up the rumours and revelations made by certain media", some of which had alleged Boonen was a cocaine dealer.

"The image of Tom Boonen cannot continue to be sullied," Rubens said of the Tour De France green jersey winner.

Patrick Lefévère, general manager of Boonen's cycling team QuickStep, added: "Tom has simply been questioned briefly and replied to everything.

"My rider is a training partner of Vannoppen. But that's the case of half the Belgian riders."

Boonen, the 2005 world champions, is currently in Doha for the Tour of Qatar which starts on Sunday.

© AFP 2008

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