(Reuters) - Italian rider Luca Paolini has been banned for 18 months for a "non-intentional" anti-doping rule violation, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Wednesday.
The 39-year-old Katusha rider had been provisionally suspended after failing a dope test for cocaine on the Tour de France last year.
The UCI's anti-doping tribunal found the rider guilty of unintentional consumption of benzoylecgonine, a cocaine metabolite, which prompted the sanction.
Cocaine is a stimulant that is banned in competition.
Paolini won one stage on the Giro d'Italia in 2013 and another one on the Vuelta in 2006 and was one of the lieutenants of top sprinter Alexander Kristoff of Norway on the Tour de France last year.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Clare Fallon)