Contador and Petacchi skip Tour presentation amid doping investigations

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Tour de France organiser ASO will present next year's route on Tuesday in Paris without two of this year's biggest stars: overall winner Alberto Contador and sprints winner Alessandro Petacchi. They both are involved in doping investigations and both have decided it is better to stay at home.

Petacchi's team Lampre-Farnese received an invitation from race organiser ASO, which encouraged the team to bring any of its riders. However, only Lampre Press Officer Andre Appiani and Sports Director Fabrizio Bontempi will attend. Petacchi, the team says, will instead meet with Aldo Sassi tomorrow at the Mapei training centre.

The Italian sprinter also faces a possible lifetime doping ban as apart of investigation that was made public in July while he raced at the Tour de France, where he won two stages and the green jersey. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has been investigating him since August over charges he used synthetic blood Perfluorocarbon (PFC) and human serum albumin in 2009.

In April this year, Police searched Petacchi's home and two other properties owned by his wife. They uncovered nothing in their raids, but in a simultaneous raid at team-mate Lorenzo Bernucci's home, they found banned drugs.

The CONI heard Bernucci, who confessed to the charges, and Petacchi on August 24 at its Rome headquarters. It continued its hearings by calling in some of Lampre's staff, including Bontempi, and Petacchi's wife Anna-Chiara.

Petacchi has already served a doping ban because he tested positive for excessive levels of asthma medication, Salbutamol, at the 2007 Giro d'Italia. If the CONI decides to issue a ban, it may range from four years to life because it would be Petacchi's second offence.

However, he will attend the presentation of next year's Giro d'Italia route on Saturday in Turin.

Spain's Contador won the yellow jersey of the overall classification for a third time in July, but said four days ago that he would skip the presentation to avoid unwanted attention. He faces a possible doping suspension due to a doping test on July 21 at the Tour de France that revealed small levels of Clenbuterol.

He claims the drug entered his body via contaminated Spanish meat. Some farmers it to help produce leaner meats, but the European Union has banned its use in animals since 1996. It is also on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of banned drugs and its presence, in any amount, is considered a doping positive. Contador's urine sample revealed 50 picograms of Clenbuterol.

Despite the absence of Contador and Petacchi, the Tour de France's other classification winners will attend. Andy Schleck, who finished second overall and won the white jersey of best young rider, and mountains classification winner Anthony Charteau will both be in Paris.

Cycling Weekly will be covering the unveiling of the 2011 Tour de France route with live video streaming from the official presentation in Paris on Tuesday, October 19.

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.