Italian manager Paolo Bettini has said he hopes Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) will be available for selection at the world championships in spite of the Italian federation’s (FCI) recent decision to bar riders with previous doping sanctions from riding for the national team.
Bennati tested positive for betamethasone in 2005 but only received a warning rather than a suspension after he claimed that the positive test was caused by the use of an undeclared anti-inflammatory cream. Bettini was unable to invite Bennati to an Italian national team training camp in Sicily this week pending clarification of the FCI ruling.
“In this case, the rule is clearly excessive,” Bettini told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Daniele was, and I hope that in Copenhagen he can be, the head of this team. I’m hopeful. I hope that common sense prevails.”
Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Tuesday that the FCI should be able to stop riders who test positive from representing the Italian national team and from riding the Italian championships. From a legal standpoint, however, the federation may be unable to apply that ban retroactively to riders who have already been sanctioned for doping offences. A decision is expected to be reached by the FCI’s federal court on Wednesday morning.
Bettini broadly welcomed the FCI’s initiative, but he was reticent to offer his support for the retroactive application of the rule. He also called for a distinction to be made for cases such as Bennati’s.
“Everything that serves to clarify things in this sport is welcome,” Bettini said. “I agree in full with the regulation, but I’m not going into the merits of the issue of time. It will be the legal people who will have to decide on that. I believe that there should be a distinction between a yellow card and a red card.”
Bennati is back in full training following his broken collarbone at the Tour de Romandie and is set to return to racing at the Tour of Austria in early July.
Italian team at work in Sicily
Bettini has gathered a youthful Italian selection for a four-day training camp near Mount Etna in Sicily ahead of Saturday’s national championships. Giro d'Italia stage winners Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD), Eros Capecchi (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) are among the twelve riders present.
“At the Giro, Gatto did a great ride at Tropea,” Bettini said. “Now that he has found that he has the ability to do well, it’s up to him, he must not disappear.
“With his win at San Pellegrino during the Giro, Capecchi might also have stepped up a level. Now I want consistency. Ulissi? I’m curious to see what he’s able to do over the 240km of the national championships.”
Katusha duo Filippo Pozzato and Luca Paolini are also in Sicily to “pass on their experience to the youngsters.” Bettini was particularly pleased with the presence of Pozzato, who is still recovering from the injuries and fractured collarbone he sustained at the Tour of Belgium.
“For that very reason it gives me even more pleasure that Pippo accepted to be here, and I thank him,” Bettini said.
Among the objectives of the training camp is to begin preparations for the proposed Olympic test event race in London on August 14, while Bettini is also looking to piece together his squad for this year’s Worlds in Copenhagen.
“I want to get to know the riders who I didn’t ride with during my own career, I want to especially get to know them as people rather than just riders,” Bettini said. “Just analysing race classifications would be reductive. I also want to convey my way of thinking to them, and make them understand [the late Franco] Ballerini’s message about the value of the group and the Italian azzurri jersey.”
Italian selection for training camp, June 21-24:
Davide Appollonio (Sky), Manuel Belletti (Colnago – CSF Inox), Eros Capecchi (Liquigas Cannondale), Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli), Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli), Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre ISD), Sacha Modolo (Colnago – CSF Inox), Luca Paolini (Team Katusha), Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha), Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD), Elia Viviani (Liquigas Cannondale), Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli).