Danilo Di Luca, Giro d'Italia 2013, stage 18 TT

Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) has failed an out-of-competion test for banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO).

According to Italian paper La Gazzetta dello Sport, he tested positive for EPO ahead of the Giro d'Italia on April 29. The Italian, who has been linked to other doping scandals in the past, previously failed a test for EPO in 2009.

"Di Luca is an idiot, and I never wanted him [in the team]," sports director, Luca Scinto told the Italian sports daily.

Di Luca, 37, failed the pre-Giro doping test five days before the race rolled out of Naples. In the race, has been very active in stage finals, but failed to attack like in the past. As of yesterday, after the Polsa stage 18 time trial, he sat 26th overall at 33-33 minutes back.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirmed the positive test on Friday morning: "This morning the UCI advised Italian rider Danilo Di Luca that he is provisionally suspended. The decision to provisionally suspend this rider was made in response to a report from the WADA accredited laboratory in Köln indicating an Adverse Analytical Finding of EPO in a urine sample collected from him in an out of competition test on 29 April 2013," said a UCI statement. Di Luca has the right to request that his B sample is tested.

Prior to failing a test for EPO-CERA in 2009, Di Luca won several classics, including Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the 2007 Giro d'Italia.

In 2009, he won two stages of the Giro d'Italia and placed second overall behind Denis Menchov. Two months later, he was caught using the super form of erythropoietin, EPO-CERA.

Other scandals dogged him.

As part of the 2004 Oil for Drugs investigation, police documents showed he used EPO. Three years later, in 2007, he received a three-month ban.

On the way to his 2007 Giro win, his urine tests were suspiciously clean with hormone levels of a small child. It was called pipì degli angeli or angels' pee. A prosecutor argued the abnormal reading was due to an illegal intravenous drip during the race. He was able to keep his Giro win because "there was not a sufficient degree of probability" in the test results.

Di Luca or 'The Killer' returned, however.

Team Katusha signed him after he served his doping ban stemming from the 2009 postive. He won very little and was unable to continue in the first division.

Vini Fantini only agreed to sign him right before this year's Giro as part of a new sponsorship deal. The team, as Scinto said, are now regretting its move.

Related links

January 2011: Di Luca to ride for Katusha for free

December 2010: Di Luca admits doping mistakes

October 2010: Di Luca ready to return, doping ban reduced

July 2009: Di Luca positive for EPO at Giro

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