By Gregor Brown
Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini) failed a test for banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO) on May 4, the opening day of the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
Santambrogio is the third rider to test positive from the race. The Italian marks the second rider from his Vini Fantini team, adding to Danilo Di Luca, who also tested positive for EPO.
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced this afternoon that Santambrogio tested positive after the first stage in Naples on May 4. He continued racing, won stage 14 to Jafferau and placed ninth overall before a lab in Rome spotted foul play.
"The UCI advised Santambrogio that he is provisionally suspended," read a statement. "The decision to provisionally suspend this rider was made in response to a report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in Rome indicating an Adverse Analytical Finding of EPO in his urine sample."
The doping positive only continues Santambrogio's downfall. Team BMC Racing suspended him from racing after his involvement in the Mantova Investigation. The investigation centred on team Lampre, where he raced until 2009.
Though helped Cadel Evans in the Tour de France, he was left to sign for second-division Italian team, Vini Fantini at the start of this year. Due to Di Luca's case, the Italian cycling federation's chief lawyer, Giovanni Grauso called in the team's top brass, including Vini Fantini owner Valentino Sciotti, to speak today in Rome. The Santambrogio's news would have only added to the team's worries.
Santambrogio was unavailable when called by Cycling Weekly for this article.
Di Luca tested positive for EPO ahead of the race, but the result was only announced in the third week, on May 24. Frenchman Sylvain Georges (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was kicked out on May 15 for using stimulant Heptaminol. All three riders have the right to contest the result and request the analysis of their B samples.
The results cast a shadow over the Corsa Rosa, which this year featured Sky's Bradley Wiggins and saw Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) win five stages. Italy's Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) took the title ahead of Rigoberto Urán (Sky).
"It's a disappointment," Nibali said when Di Luca was caught. "How can you explain it to the fans, to those that don't watch the sport often, that this is a clean sport?"
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