On the eve of the 100th Giro d’Italia, news broke that two riders from professional continental team Bardiani-CSF failed an anti-doping test. Confirmation of the doping positives emerged on Thursday evening from the UCI and the team, just 12 hours before the race pushes off from Alghero, Sardinia.
Nicola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi, two riders in Bardiani’s nine-man team, returned positive tests from out-of-competition samples taken ahead of the three-week race on April 25 and 26 respectively
The team will start with only seven men as it is too late to replace them on its roster. It was one of four wildcard invitations for the 2017 Giro d’Italia and one of two Italian teams.
Watch: Cycling Weekly’s guide to the Giro d’Italia first week
The cycling federation, the UCI, confirmed it was a type of growth hormone.
The UCI said in a statement that it “notified Italian riders Nicola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) of GH-Releasing Peptides (GHRPs) in samples collected in the scope of out-of-competition controls on 25 and 26 April 2017 respectively.”
The team said if the B samples confirm the positive tests then they “will immediately proceed with layoff, as provided for by internal regulations, signed by each riders at the beginning of the season.”
Bruno and Roberto Reverberi, managers of the team explained: “We’re absolutely shocked by the news. We will wait the results of further analysis and we will reaffirm with determination the intention to protect the values of our sport project.”
Whether the team stops racing or not by their own decision, they now faces a suspension from competition under UCI anti-doping regulations. The UCI’s disciplinary commission will decide on the length of the ban, which can be from between 15 to 45 days.
At present, the team is due to continue in the Giro. Last year, they won a stage with 21-year-old Giulio Ciccone. Race organiser RCS Sport indicated it could take action.
It said in a statement: “The Giro d’Italia’s race direction and RCS Sport reserves the right to take any appropriate measure to protect the image and the name of the Giro d’Italia.”
Pirazzi, 30, won the mountains classification in 2013 Giro d’Italia and a stage in the 2014 edition. Ruffoni, 26, has been racing for four years and won two stages in the Tour of Croatia last month ahead of the Giro.
Bardiani develops young riders and is known as the ‘green team’ for its colours and youth programme. They earned the right to race the Giro when they won the Italian Cup classification in 2016. They joined Italian team Wilier-Selle Italia, Poland’s CCC Sprandi Polkowice and Russia’s Gazprom-RusVelo.