Vini Zabú have pulled out of the 2021 Giro d’Italia after their rider tested positive for EPO earlier this year.
The Italian ProTeam had been invited to race the Giro on a wild card spot, but has now suspended themselves from racing as they investigate the doping positive for Matteo De Bonis.
De Bonis, 25, was suspended from racing by the UCI in March after he returned a positive test for EPO in an out-of-competition test at the start of the year.
The positive is the second time within a 12-month period a Vini Zabú rider has been suspended for doping, which means the whole team now faces a ban from racing.
A statement from the team, released on Thursday (April 15), said: “The team and the main sponsor Vini Zabú have decided to give an important message to the world of cycling, to teach those athletes who still think they can take shortcuts by cheating.
“The team has agreed with its main sponsor not to participate in the Giro d’Italia, despite having demonstrated to the competent bodies that it has taken the most diligent measures to combat doping.
“Our decision not to participate in the Giro d’Italia is intended to underline the damage that the unlawful conduct of an individual can cause to the entire team, with devastating effects on those who, instead, put their best efforts into enabling cyclists to compete.”
Following the announcement of De Bonis’s positive test, Italian police carried out raids on the team’s manager Angelo Citracca, sports director Luca Scinto and De Bonis, along with 22 other team members.
Citracca later told Cyclingnews that no banned substances were found during the searches and that the team were fully cooperating with police and the UCI.
Vini Zabú said that De Bonis needs to collaborate with the authorities.
They added: “Those who decide to violate the principles of ethical sport by taking banned substances damage not only themselves, but the entire appearance of the team (colleagues, staff members, managers and sponsors).
“We would like to thank RCS Sport for the consideration they have shown us by inviting us to the Giro d’Italia and for their positive assessment of our team project. Our renunciation of the most popular race among Italian cyclists is a gesture of love for cycling.”
The announcement now opens up one wildcard spot at the Giro, which starts on May 8.