Italian climber says he's innocent
Italian Pietro Caucchioli insisted today that he is innocent despite irregular blood values reported yesterday by the International Cycling Union (UCI) via its biological passport programme.
"If they'd found a substance they could say what they had found, but they didn't find anything. They wrote to me, 'We have sufficient evidence to presume that you did something' [against the rules]," Caucchioli told Cyclingnews.
Caucchioli, 33 years old from Verona, was one of five cyclists listed who, according to the cycling union, violated anti-doping rules based on its blood profiles. Italian Francesco De Bonis and Spaniards Igor Astarloa, Ricardo Serrano and Rubén Lobato were the other cyclists exposed in press release.
Team Lampre suspended Caucchioli yesterday. The Italian team said its doctor, Carlo Guardascione, saw the UCI's documents that the irregular value came from a blood test in September 2008. Caucchioli, professional since 1999, rode for France's Crédit Agricole from 2005 through 2008.
"I took the document to my lawyer because it is in English, a lot of legal terms that I don't understand," said Caucchioli. "For a normal person it is impossible to understand what the UCI sent."
Caucchioli said it was the first letter he received by the cycling union about irregular blood values and that he did not do anything prohibited.
The biological passport programme started in January 2008 and there are now 840 cyclists in it. The UCI collects cyclists' blood and urine samples throughout the year to store in a database and create profiles. Scientists are able to detect doping by variations in cyclists' baseline values.
"This case doesn't add up. I'm convinced I'm okay." Caucchioli said.
The International Cycling Union handed the findings over to the Italian cycling federation (FCI) for disciplinary action. The federation should summons Caucchioli in the coming weeks.
Caucchioli won two stages of the 2001 Giro d'Italia. He finished third overall in 2002, behind Paolo Savoldelli and Tyler Hamilton.
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