Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF), who was sent home on the eve of the 100th Giro d'Italia due to an anti-doping positive for a human growth hormone, says that the test result could have been due to a prostate infection.
Ruffoni and his team-mate Stefano Pirazzi tested positive for growth hormones GH-Releasing Peptides (GHRPs) on April 25 and 26, respectively. The results went public Thursday night, 12 hours before the Giro set off from Alghero, in Sardinia.
"I'm trying to give a logical explanation of what happened to me by reliving what I did in the last month before the test," Ruffoni wrote on his Facebook page.
"The thing that might have been associated with the presence of growth hormone in my urine could be a strong prostate infection I suffered in the period from March 20 to April 20, and that forced me to stop riding and to take antibiotics. I will therefore turn to an expert endocrinologist for information on this."
Both Ruffoni and Pirazzi were not allowed to start the Giro d'Italia, and team Bardiani-CSF began with only seven men instead of nine.
"The damage is done already, unfortunately," said the race's director, Mauro Vegni after the news.
"I'm sorry for the Giro, for Italian cycling, and that team represented Italian cycling. It shows that you have to keep your attention high for doping, because unfortunately, there's always an idiot. It happened, it's sad, but the Giro has so much more to it."
The B samples are being analysed to confirm the results of the initial tests. If confirmed, the UCI will open a disciplinary hearing where Ruffoni could present his case.
Watch: The 100th Giro d'Italia in 100 seconds
"I am aware that my cycling career is at risk but I am equally aware that I have not tried to cheat," Ruffoni added. "I will therefore calmly wait the counter-analysis and try to defend my credibility to the fullest."
"The news of non-negativity to the doping test of two #GreenTeam athletes, on the eve of the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia has struck us and leaves us bewildered," said the team sponsors in a statement. "We cannot do nothing, but only dissociate from what happened.
"We have chosen to sponsor a young team, launching many of them and focusing on values such as daily work and struggle. We affirm our choice and want to push even more on it: in fact two bad apples can be removed and replaced by four healthy apples."
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