Italy upholds ban for dopers from nationals and worlds

Doping syringe

The Italian cycling federation (FCI) will go ahead with its plans to ban dopers from its national championships and teams for the world championships. The FCI yesterday ratified the proposal made on May 30, to ban all cyclists who have served a doping suspension of six months or more.

The decision will prohibit Alessandro Petacchi from racing against Mark Cavendish at the World Championships in Copenhagen this September. At last year's Tour de France, he won two stages and the green sprint jersey. At the 2007 Giro d'Italia, he tested positive for excessive levels of asthma medication, Salbutamol, and received a one-year suspension.

FCI's decision also prohibits Danilo Di Luca, Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi, Emanuele Sella and other cyclists caught doping from competing in this week's national championships in Sicily.

"I don't even want to give this rule any thought," Basso told La Gazzetta dello Sport today. "It's not worth spending a single euro on legal action. Besides, my fans want me to win the Tour de France or a third Giro d'Italia."

Basso served a two-year ban for his involvement in the Operación Puerto doping investigation. His suspension ended in the autumn of 2008.

Di Luca doped at the 2009 Giro d'Italia, served a suspension and returned this year with team Katusha. One-day races, such as the national and world championship, are his speciality. According to the La Gazzetta dello Sport, he asked a court to examine the retroactive ruling to allow him to compete in future championships.

"Italy has had some problems [with doping]. It's taking tough measures given it's tough times," Marco Pinotti told Cycling Weekly.

Pinotti races for HTC-Highroad and this year wore the pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia. He's a reference point for clean cycling and often outspoken on doping.

He won five national time trial titles, the 2007 title he received retroactively when Luca Ascani was found positive for doping. He won't compete Sunday in Sicily due to a crash at the Giro d'Italia.

"Italy has had more doping cases than other nations," added Pinotti, "so the signal needs to be stronger."

Other nations lack similar rules. Pinotti said that he'd rather see the decision come from the international cycling body, the UCI, instead of his national federation.

Scot David Millar served a doping ban starting in 2004 after he admitted to EPO use. Great Britain prohibits him from racing the Olympics, but its rules allow him to race its national championships and in its world championships team. He finished second at last year's worlds in Geelong, Australia.

Related links

UCI and AFLD collaborate on Tour de France dope tests

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.