Preliminary hearing now fixed for April 30
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) will have access to the full documentation of the Mantova-based doping investigation after it was added as a civil party to the case at a technical hearing on Wednesday. ANSA reports that the preliminary hearing will now be held on April 30.
The inquiry is centred on the activities of Mariana Mantovana-based pharmacist Guido Nigrelli and his links to the Lampre team in 2008 and 2009.
In spite of an objection on technical grounds from lawyers representing the 31 individuals named in the Mantova report, the preliminary hearing judge accepted CONI’s request to be added to the proceedings.
Two years ago, CONI’s anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri summoned a number of individuals named in the investigation to Rome for questioning, including Alessandro Ballan, but no action was taken pending the conclusion of legal proceedings.
Wednesday’s development means that riders and managers implicated in the Mantova inquiry could now face sporting sanctions before the conclusion of the lengthy legal proceedings, which have already been delayed on several occasions.
News of the investigation first appeared in the Italian media in April 2010, and on the eve of the 2011 Giro d’Italia Gazzetta dello Sport published a transcript of a damning conversation between Nigrelli and former world champion Alessandro Ballan, dating from 2009.
The formal preliminary hearing for the case – in which the 31 people named in the report will learn whether or not they will face trial – has been postponed on several occasions, but has now been fixed for April 30.
At the preliminary hearing, Gazzetta dello Sport reports, judge Gilberto Casari will also rule on whether phone taps gathered before the trial are admissible as evidence.
The 31 names listed in the Mantova report include past and present Lampre riders Alessandro Ballan, Damiano Cunego, Marco Bandiera, Mauro Da Dalto, Manuele Mori, Massimiliano Mori, Marzio Bruseghin, Daniele Pietropolli, Simone Ponzi and Mauro Santambrogio.
Lampre manager Beppe Saronni, directeurs sportifs Fabrizio Bontempi and Maurizio Piovani, and former professional Mariano Piccoli were also named in Condorelli’s report, as well as Michael Rasmussen.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Lampre team said it was “confident that it can prove its non-involvement in the charges.”