CONI prosecutor asks for two year ban for Ballan

BMC rider facing suspension in Mantova case

BMC's Alessandro Ballan is facing the possibility of a two year ban after the Anti-Doping prosecutor of the Italian Olympic Committee recommended the suspension in relation to the Mantova doping investigation.

The prosecutor also recommended a lifetime ban for pharmacist Guido Nigrelli and Doctor Fiorenzo Egeo Bonazzi, who were accused of assisting with doping in the Lampre team in 2009.

The recommendation for Ballan's punishment was based on article 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Agency code, "Use or attempted use by an athlete of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method", while the bans for Nigrelli and Bonazzi fall under articles 2.7 and 2.8, trafficking or attempted trafficking and administration or attempted administration of any prohibited substance or prohibited method.

The investigation first came to light in 2010, reportedly as fallout from the testimony of Emanuele Sella, who tested positive for EPO CERA in 2008. When the allegations surfaced, Lampre refused to suspend any of its riders, but Ballan and his then-teammate Mauro Santambrogio were pulled from competition by BMC.

In 2011, the Gazzetta dello Sport published more details of the investigation, which included wiretaps of phone conversations about doping (EPO and blood transfusions) between Ballan and Nigrelli, and between Nigrelli and Bonazzi.

In all, 32 people were caught up in the operation, half of whom were associated with the Lampre team in 2009. Santambrogio spent two years with BMC during the course of the investigation, missing little more than a month of competition because of it. He moved onto the Vini Fantini team this season, but tested positive for EPO in the Giro d'Italia.

Ballan was also briefly held from competition in 2010, and was forced to miss Paris-Roubaix that year, but an off-season training crash kept him from racing for the majority of this year.

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