Italian Mauro Santambrogio "learned not to cheat" after a 2013 Giro d'Italia doping positive and subsequent suspension. His cooperation with cycling's reform commission brought a reduced ban that enabled him to sign a two-year contract this week with third division team Amore & Vita.
"Cycling's controlled more than any other sport and I've learned that there's no use in trying to cheat," he told Italy's Tutto Bici website. "Anyway, I'm convinced that a donkey can't become a thoroughbred with doping."
The 30-year-old tested positive for blood booster EPO at the 2013 Giro where he won the Bardonecchia mountaintop stage in Vini Fantini's yellow colours. In the same Giro, team-mate Danilo Di Luca tested positive for the same banned drug and forced the team to the fringe.
The fallout of his doping case that nearly tore apart team Vini Fantini, now racing as Neri Sottoli, and Santambrogio. He wrote on Twitter one night in October 2013 that he was ready to kill himself.
"Yeah," he said, "I really wanted to end it."
Santambrogio found help and also confessed. He cooperated with the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) and received a reduced ban, from four years to 18 months. His suspension ended this week and, after racing with top squads BMC and Lampre, he signed with third division Amore & Vita team. The long running team of Ivano Fanini bases itself in Italy but is registered in Ukraine.
"At 30 years old I can't imagine my life without a bike. Maybe because I started racing when I was still a baby and this beautiful sport won over my heart," he said.
"I admitted all of my guilt. I'm responsible 100% for what happened and confessing was liberating, I could no longer keep this big weight on my shoulders.
"In 2013, I was soaring with the eagles with a stage win in Bardonecchia and after a week, I was finished, buried underground. Only my family and I know how much I suffered in the months afterwards."
Santambrogio will not return to race the Giro in 2015 or 2016 because Amore & Vita does not have chance to race in WorldTour races. Instead, the continental team will likely take him to -.2, -.1 and -.HC ranked races.
Italian Mauro Santambrogio fails test for EPO from sample taken during the Giro d'Italia on May 4
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