Alessandro Petacchi will continue in the Tour de France despite being part of a doping investigation at home in Italy. He is one of the top favourites for the green jersey competition, which he trails by four points to rival Thor Hushovd.
"If someone is positive, he should go home and have his suspension," said Hushovd, "but you have to have proof."
Padova prosecutor, Benedetto Roberti is working on the proof. Prior to the Tour de France, he sent Petacchi a registered letter that he is under investigation for doping and has since passed his information to head prosecutor of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), Ettore Torri.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Petacchi is accused of using synthetic blood Perfluorocarbon (PFC) and human serum albumin, which is used to lower EPO levels.
Petacchi's lawyer said his rider was not informed of the investigation until July 12, after the Tour de France started on July 3. Regardless, Petacchi will meet with Roberti after the race and he has the support of his team.
Team Lampre-Farnese said yesterday that it would continue to support Petacchi until it receives further information, giving no indication that it would send Petacchi home.
Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich were sent home prior to the 2006 Tour de France when they were linked to Operación Puerto, Danilo Di Luca was not allowed to start the 2004 race due to Oil for Drugs and Michael Rasmussen was forced out of the race while leading in 2007 for lying about his whereabouts prior to the race.
"Will they send me home? I hope not. I have battled and gave my all. I will try not to think about it," said Petacchi yesterday.
"I will try to face the stages with the same grit, I can't make any compromises. I have a Tour to finish."
Petacchi won the stages to Brussels and Reims and will aim for the next two possible sprint stages, Bordeaux and Paris. If he wins one or places highly, he has a chance to win the final green jersey in Paris in four days.
In Italy, though, Roberti is fighting a different battle.
Police searched Petacchi's home and two other locations owned by his wife in April. Investigators did not find anything in their raids, but in a simultaneous raid, they did find banned substances at team-mate Lorenzo Bernucci's home. Bernucci is currently suspended by team Lampre.
"It's not my stuff and it was not found in my home. I don't know why I am accused of using those two substances," said Petacchi. "If they were found at my home then I would not start the race today [Tuesday]."
Petacchi may be linked to Doctor Filippo Manelli. In separate drug raids, all headed by Roberti, police found prescriptions and banned substances with Manelli's name on them.
Filippo Manelli is linked to Italian Davide Rebellin (found positive for EPO after winning a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics) and Bruno Leali (head of Italian amateur team who was kicked out of the GiroBio last month following a drug raid).
Police raided Manelli's home and several other locations June 29 as part of Roberti's investigation.
Tour de France 2010: Latest news
Armstrong has his last go in the Tour
Tour's points leader Petacchi investigated for doping
Contador issues video apology to Schleck
Millar searches horizon for Eiffel Tower
Schleck-Contador friendship turns sour after chain problem
Wiggins at 2010 Tour: "I haven't got it"
Basso wins Tour's acceptance; podium spot next goal
Contador versus Schleck: A game of seconds
Can Cav win without Renshaw?
Hesjedal pushing his way to the Tour's top
Renshaw disqualification overshadows Cavendish's win
Charly Wegelius pulls out of Tour
Did Armstrong own a stake in Tailwind Sports, or not?
Cavendish in a 'must win' situation for Tour's green jersey
Millar rides through pain barrier to make time cut
Roche alongside Tour's top men ahead of Pyrenees
Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?
Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain
Tour de France 2010: Stage reports
Stage 16: Fedrigo takes tough Pyrenean stage
Stage 15: Victorious Voeckler continues fine Franch Tour as Contador takes yellow jersey
Stage 14: Riblon hangs on in Pyrenees to give France fourth stage win
Stage 13: Vino returns to top of Tour after doping ban
Stage 12: Rodriguez wins as Contador attacks
Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour
Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race
Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day
Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head
Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour's white
Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up
Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour
Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims
Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC
Stage three live coverage: As it happened
Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa
Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters
Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win
Tour de France 2010: Photos
Stage 15 photo gallery
Stage 14 photo gallery
Stage 13 photo gallery
Stage 12 photo gallery
Stage 11 photo gallery
Stage 10 photo gallery
Stage nine photo gallery
Stage eight photo gallery
Tour 2010 wallpaper
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one gallery
Prologue photo gallery
Tour de France 2010: Videos
Stage 16 video highlights
Stage 15 video highlights
Stage 14 video highlights
Stage 13 video highlights
Stage 12 video highlights
Stage 11 video highlights
Stage 10 video highlights
Stage nine video highlights
Stage eight video highlights
Stage seven video highlights
Stage six video highlights
Stage five video highlights
Stage four video highlights
Stage three video highlights
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Prologue video highlights
Tour de France 2010: Race guide
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Official start list, with race numbers
Brits at the Tour 2010
Tout team guide
Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins
Tour de France 2010: Pictures
Tour team presentation, Rotterdam
Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special
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