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"Whoever wasn't a fan of mine before won't be a fan now either"
Danilo Di Luca met with anti-doping investigators from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in Rome for an hour on Wednesday to answer questions regarding his positive test for EPO, announced during this year’s Giro d’Italia.
The positive test, which took place on April 29 but was only revealed in the final days of the Giro, was the second of Di Luca’s career following the positive control for CERA that saw him stripped of his second place finish at the centenary Giro in 2009.
Previously suspended for six months in 2007 for working with banned doctor Carlo Santuccione, it is believed that Di Luca now faces a ban of between eight and twelve years for what amounts to a third doping offence.
“We spoke but I can’t tell you what I said,” Di Luca told reporters after the hearing, according to Tuttobici. “Did I confess? I can’t tell you, but they have asked me to collaborate.”
The grim irony, of course, is that Di Luca’s two-year suspension for his 2009 CERA positive was reduced by nine months in recognition of the information he provided to CONI’s anti-doping investigators and the longstanding Padua-based doping inquiry headed by Benedetto Roberti.
Indeed, the last time Di Luca answered questions outside Rome’s Stadio Olimpico was in October 2010, following the reduction of his ban, when he said that he had collaborated “in favour of cycling.”
On Wednesday, the 37-year-old Di Luca acknowledged that he was now facing a lengthy ban and was vague on whether or not he would look to stay involved with cycling in the future. “I’m already doing other things, so I’ll see,” Di Luca said. “I have a bike shop and a bike company, and I’m doing other sports, like tennis and swimming. It’s still early to decide what to do.”
Asked if he had a message for his remaining supporters, Di Luca said: “For now, I don’t feel I can say anything. Whoever is my fan will remain my fan, and whoever wasn’t a fan of mine before won’t be a fan now either. It doesn’t change a lot.”
Di Luca’s 2013 EPO positive came immediately after he signed for the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia in the week before the Giro d’Italia. Vini Fantini teammate Mauro Santambrogio also tested positive for EPO during the race, when his samples were re-tested following Di Luca’s positive test.
However, on Wednesday Gazzetta dello Sport speculated that Santambrogio could yet be cleared of doping when his B sample is tested due to the difficulties in detecting micro-doses of EPO.