CONI considers two-year suspension for 2007 Giro winner
By Gregor Brown
Italian Danilo Di Luca, winner of the 2007 Giro d'Italia, faces another possible suspension if the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has its way. Based on the findings of doping controls taken the night following the Giro stage to Monte Zoncolan, May 30, CONI's anti-doping prosecutors have prepared documents that will be reviewed by its expert panel, and could result in a two-year ban from cycling under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code 2.2.
CONI suspects that the 32 year-old rider was subjected to injections that altered his hormone level in the time between the International Cycling Union (UCI) anti-doping control following the stage (he finished fourth - ed.) and the surprise and controversial control by CONI later on that same evening. The rider from Abruzzo, who went on to win the Giro by 1'55" over Andy Schleck (Team CSC), was heard by heard CONI prosecutor Ettore Torri in December in relation to the Giro findings. Any judgement made by CONI would need to be approved or denied by the Italian cycling federation (FCI) disciplinary commission.
In an unrelated case, Di Luca was suspended for three months over the winter in relation to the Oil for Drugs affair of 2004.
Over the winter Di Luca changed teams from Liquigas to LPR Brakes, and has the full backing of his new steam. "I have trust in Danilo," said LPR Brakes' Team Manager Fabio Bordonali. "For this reason I can't wait for the day of justice, to close this matter quickly and return to taking only of racing.
"I spoke with Danilo and I found him to be more or less relaxed," he continued. "He knows that he did nothing wrong, and so can't wait for justice to run its course."
President of the FCI, Renato Di Rocco, was not pleased with his country's latest case. Just last May, the 2006 Giro winner, Ivan Basso, was suspended due to his involvement with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes as part of the Operación Puerto investigation.
"I am very sorry, like all of us, for this submission [by CONI]," stated Di Rocco. "... I don't want and I am not able to enter into the merit of this decision taken by the CONI prosecutor. ... Italian cycling has shown to be in the lead against doping, a widespread and complex problem."
CONI could be in a rush to make its decision as the Italian elections are nearing. In April a new prime minister will be selected and could upset the balance of the Italian Olympic Committee.