Former Tour de France yellow jersey wearer banned for four years for doping offence

The ex-Ag2r La Mondiale rider retired last season, but has now been banned from re-entering the sport 

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

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." 

UPDATE: ‘Why would I resort to banned practices at 41?’: Former Tour de France leader responds to ban for doping offence

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. 

>>> Bahrain-McLaren manager denies connection to doctor at centre of Operation Aderlass blood doping investigation

 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.   

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.