The Russian Katusha team has suspended Austria’s Christian Pfannberger after he tested positive in an out of competition doping control taken on March 19.

On Wednesday morning the Katusha team announced Pfannberger had pulled out of the line-up for the Giro d’Italia for personal reasons and would be replaced by Alexander Serov.

In the afternoon, Katusha issued a further statement claiming they were told later in the morning that Pfannberger had failed a test. The team did not reveal the drug discovered in the test.

The team statement said: “In the late morning of today, 6 May 2009, we received a communication from Pfannberger?s manager about not negativity of the athlete surprise control did at his home on March 19. Pending an official response from the UCI the team has decided to indefinitely suspend the athlete from the team. If confirmed the positivity the Team Katusha reserves to protect his image and rights against Pfannberger.”

The ProTour Katusha team was created this year and is managed by former Paris-Roubaix winner Andrei Tchmil. Current Russian national champion, Sergei Ivanov, won the recent Amstel Gold Race and Filippo Pozzato finished second at Paris-Roubaix. Pfannberger rode the Ardennes classics but did not obtain any notable results.

Britain’s Ben Swift is a first year professional with the team and is part of the nine-rider team for the Giro d’Italia.

Giro d’Italia 2009 links

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Giro d’Italia 2009: The Big Preview
Brits in the Giro 2009
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2008 Giro d’Italia archive
Giro d’Italia 2008 coverage index – race reports, photos, results
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Five days to go, what’s in store?
Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 27)
Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 19)
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