A year and a half after testing positive for CERA, Maurizio Biondo has publicly admitted to doping but vowed to return to the peloton as a clean rider when his suspension expires in September.
Biondo was set to represent Italy in the time trial at the 2009 world championships in Mendrisio, when it emerged that he had failed an out of competition test for CERA the previous month. In January of last year, he was handed a two-year suspension and a fine of €13,750.
“I made an error, a very serious error that I won’t make again,” Biondo told Il Giorno. “I followed mistaken advice from a mistaken person.”
Biondo claims that his use of CERA was an isolated incident. Then riding for Ceramica Flaminia, the rider from Concorezzo obtained a string of impressive results in the summer of 2009. He was third in the Italian time trial championships in June, before winning a stage and finishing second overall at the Tour of Denmark.
“I’d never used illegal substances,” he insisted. “I’d gone strong without little helps, but then I fell into temptation.
“I deluded myself that a substance would have given me something more, and instead I ruined everything. It was stupid: I would have been capable of getting excellent results anyway and of featuring in the maglia azzurra.”
Although he turns 30 in May, Biondo is nonetheless confident that he can find a team when his suspension comes to an end towards the end of the season, in spite of his past.
“I have contacts and I want to start again from where I left off,” he said. “I hope to deserve the trust of whoever wants to believe in me.
“It’s been a life lesson, I’ve learned and I’m ready to come back, clean.”
Biondo also echoed the words of his fellow countryman Danilo Di Luca, who also tested positive for CERA in 2009, repeating the refrain that attitudes to doping in the peloton were changing.
“The situation up to a few years ago was difficult: certain practices were widespread, but now it’s not like that anymore,” Biondo claimed. “The controls have intensified, in the peloton there’s a different mentality. Our ambience is really changing.”