Police investigation in Mantova sparks more questions
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has summoned Lampre-ISD team leader Damiano Cunego and team manager Giuseppe Saronni for questioning as they continue to investigate alleged doping offences after as a consequence of the police investigation centred on a Mantova pharmacy.
Cunego, who recently finished seventh overall and was the best-placed Italian rider at the Tour de France, has been summoned for 11:00am on September 7. Saronni has been scheduled for questioning an hour later. Former directeur sportif Fabrizio Bontempi has been summoned for September 5, along with Dr Fiorenzo Egeo Bonazzi, who has been linked to an alleged attempted blood transfusion by Alessandro Ballan. He rode for Lampre in 2009 but now rides for the BMC team.
Former Lampre rider Pietro Caucchioli, who was suspended after being snared by the UCI’s biological passport programme in 2009, has also been summoned for September 6.
The Mantova police investigation is centred around pharmacist Guido Nigrelli, whom many Lampre riders were ordered to visit for testing. The riders and Nigrelli have denied any wrong doing, with Nigrelli insisting that he only supplied legal medicines to Lampre team at discount prices. However, the police investigation is centred on the sale and use of prohibited substances including EPO, ephedrine, testosterone and cortico-steroids. Police used phone taps and tailed people as part of the investigation, discovering that those involved used code words such as ‘lollypop’, ‘egg’, ‘topo gigio’ and ‘culatello’ to describe the products they were using.
Ballan and current BMC teammate Mauro Santambrogio were caught up in the investigation and have twice been suspended but then allowed to race by the BMC team. Ballan crashed out of the Tour of Poland near the end of stage two.
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