Di Luca to remain in limbo

2007 Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca will have to wait ten more days until the Court of...

2007 Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca will have to wait ten more days until the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will make a decision on his appeal of his three-month suspension for the 'Oil for Drugs' investigation, the court announced Thursday after meeting in Milan.

Code named 'Oil for Drugs' by the Italian anti-doping authorities, the four year old sting operation resulted in action against more than 100 athletes from all across Italy with links to Dr. Carlos Santuccione, also know as 'Ali the Chemist'. Italian investigators turned up large amounts of doping products during the operation's raids, as well as wire-taps, allegedly containing conversations between Di Luca and Santuccione. The information found its way to the French newspaper Le Monde in June, 2004, leading to the rider being barred from the Tour de France that year.

Di Luca has denied his involvement in the doping ring since the beginning. Italian police searched his home in 2004, they did not find any banned substances. That did not stop CONI from handing down a three-month suspension in 2007, news of which had him barred from racing the World Championships in Stuttgart. Despite having already served the suspension, he appealed the punishment to CAS, which was supposed to return a judgment by Thursday. The court announced that it needed more time to reach its verdict, according to Ansa.

"I suffered injustices in the past nine months, with this story I have already lost one Tour, a World Cup and the Olympics. With the suspension of three months in 2007, they made me lose another Worlds and the victory in ProTour. I want justice, I want my image to be cleared," said an impatient Di Luca after the hearing.

Whatever the CAS decision at that time, Di Luca's return to his normal serene state of focus ahead of the Ardennes Classics is unlikely to come, as he has another pending case in front of CONI for returning abnormally low hormone values after stage 17 of the 2007 Giro d'Italia. CONI recommended a two-year suspension for that result, and will hold a hearing regarding that case on April 1.

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