A former Tour de France leader has been banned from the sport for four years for a doping offence.
Rinaldo Nocentini, an Italian who spent much of his career with Ag2r La Mondiale, has been sanctioned by his national anti-doping authority after irregularities were found in his biological passport.
The 43-year-old has been given the maximum penalty by the Italian National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) for “use or attempted use of prohibited methods.”
Nocentini, who retired from the peloton at the end of last season, was found to have irregularities in his biological passport in December 2019, shortly before his retirement.
The Tuscan rider turned professional with Mapei-Quickstep in 1999 and rode 21 seasons in the pro peloton.
He spent eight years with French WorldTour team Ag2r from 2007 until 2015, when he stepped down to join Continental squad Sporting Clube de Portugal/Tavira, where he remained for the rest of his career.
Nocentini racked up 17 wins during his career, including the 2003 Giro di Toscana and a stage of the 2009 Tour of California, as well as a second-place finish overall in Paris-Nice and fourth in Tirreno-Adriatico.
During his long career, Nocentini rode 17 Grand Tours, including two Tours de France, and 27 Monuments – 12 starts in Il Lombardia, eight in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and seven editions of Italian Classic Milan-San Remo.
But by far his crowning achievement was the 2009 Tour de France, where he led the race for eight days from stage seven until stage 14, eventually finishing 12th on general classification as Alberto Contador won the yellow jersey.
He now runs a training centre for cyclists in Tuscany.
The NADO Italia ruling was published on Wednesday (December 2), as Nocentini was banned from November 20, 2020 until November 29, 2024.
He was also stripped of all results dating from January 2018, which include two stage wins in La Tropicale Amissa Bongo that year.