Winner of the Tour de France’s green jersey, Alessandro Petacchi is keeping quiet over doping charges despite saying one week ago that he would cooperate.
The Italian sprinter of team Lampre-Farnese narrowly beat Mark Cavendish for the green jersey in Paris on Sunday and in Florence yesterday, he was due to answer to Italy’s Anti-Narcotics Group (NAS).
NAS called in Petacchi based on the investigation of Padova prosecutor, Benedetto Roberti. Roberti claims that Petacchi used synthetic blood Perfluorocarbon (PFC) and human serum albumin in 2009.
“They are generic accusations, so we took the option not to answer,” Petacchi’s lawyer, Virginio Angelini, said in a press statement.
“It was quite a job to persuade Petacchi not to talk. This is my job, though, and in some situations, this is the best defence.”
Police searched Petacchi’s home and two other locations owned by his wife in April. They did not find anything in their raids, but in a simultaneous raid, they did find banned substances at team-mate Lorenzo Bernucci’s home.
Bernucci is currently suspended by team Lampre and, like Petacchi, kept quiet yesterday.
“It’s not my stuff and it was not found in my home,” said Petacchi during the Tour de France. “I don’t know why I am accused of using those two substances.”
Petacchi may be linked to Doctor Filippo Manelli. In separate drug raids, all headed by Roberti, police found prescriptions and banned substances with Manelli’s name on them.
Filippo Manelli has links to Italian Davide Rebellin (found positive for EPO after winning a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics) and Bruno Leali (head of Italian amateur team who was kicked out of the GiroBio last month following a drug raid).
Police raided Manelli’s home and several other locations June 29 as part of Roberti’s investigation.
Roberti’s papers on Petacchi are already in the hands of the Italian Olympic Committee’s head prosecutor, Ettore Torri. Torri has called Petacchi to appear in Rome on Tuesday at 12:00.
Petacchi may face a life-time ban because these charges, if verified, will count for his second doping offense. At the 2007 Giro d’Italia, he tested positive for excessive levels of asthma medication, Salbutamol.