Quick Step’s management said Sunday that it would not beg the Tour de France to include Tom Boonen in this year's race.
Boonen, a 28-year-old one-day specialist who was crowned world champion in 2005, is facing up to what could be a premature end to his impressive career after testing positive a second time for cocaine.
He tested positive for cocaine two weeks ago, after winning his third Paris-Roubaix. It was barely a year after he first tested positive for the drug, in May 2008.
That incident did not lead to criminal or sporting sanctions. But Tour organizers, despite Quick Step's pleas, gave Boonen's presence the thumbs-down over concerns of negative publicity.
This time, Quick Step company chief Frank De Cocksaid said the team would not ask the Tour to allow Boonen to race.
"Last year we went to the Tour de France organizers to plead Tom's case. This year there is no question of us doing that. We will not embarrass ourselves again," De Cock told the Sporza television channel.
Boonen, one of the biggest cycling stars of the past decade, was in such demand in Belgium that he fled the country to live in Monaco several years ago. He only recently returned home.
As well as winning notable races like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, Boonen has also won the Tour de France green jersey, for the sprinters' points competition, in 2007.
News of his latest positive test led prosecutors on Friday to order a raid on his home.
Boonen has since faced questioning and despite the unlikelihood of a sporting ban — cocaine is not forbidden outside official competition by the sports authorities — he could now face criminal charges.
He avoided charges last year only on the condition there would be no repeat of similar incidents inside three years.
De Cock said Boonen's future with the team was uncertain, but he admitted it would be hard to see the former world champion end his career on such a note.
"I put all my weight behind Tom last year, and told him I would forgive him, on the condition it did not happen again," said De Cock. "Now, he's gone and done it again.
"He needs help. It would be a real pity for the sport of cycling to lose Boonen like this."