By Gregor Brown
Lorenzo Bernucci has spoken out about his dismissal by T-Mobile this last Tuesday, September 4. The Germany-based team immediately released the 27 year-old Italian after being informed that he tested positive in the Deutschland Tour for using Sibutramine, an appetite suppressant. He was also forced to leave the Vuelta a España after being informed of the positive test.
"I made two errors," he noted to La Gazzetta dello Sport in his first interview since being released. "I took Ectiva, that contains Sibutramine, from 2004 [on]. I did not know that from 2006 the substance was inserted in WADA's [World Anti-Doping Agency] doping list, and that was the first mistake. At the first team meeting this year, in Mallorca, I notified Stephan Prettin that I was using this product. However, the medical staff changed and I did not communicate anything to the new medical team. My second negligence."
Bernucci, from La Spezia (Liguria), resides in Monaco and carries a racing license from the principality. He would buy the drug in his home country.
"Not from the black market," explained Bernucci when asked how he obtained the drug. "I have a prescription for it, and usually I would buy it, with a receipt, at the pharmacy in Ventimiglia [Liguria, Italy, on the French border - ed.] Why use a drug that suppresses hunger when I could have simply paid attention to my diet? It helped my psychologically; I took it when I knew that I had an excessive desire for food."
The rider, defended by lawyer Federico Cecconi, will be heard by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutors because his case concerns Italy. He has competed for the Italian national teams in the past, taking part in the 2005 World Championship as part of the Squadra Azzurra.
"I heard about the dismissal on T-Mobile's website. However, I have faith because I did not try to utilize a drug to enhance my performance."