In ten days, Danilo Di Luca will step up to the line in Palermo to begin the defense of his 2007 Giro d'Italia victory. He will do so after serving a three-month suspension this winter for his involvement in the Oil for Drugs case, a ruling which the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Wednesday. The Italian who now rides for the Professional Continental team LPR Brakes had faced a potential two-year ban had the court not rejected the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) bid to sanction him for attempted doping.
The CAS ruling rejected an appeal from Di Luca, who sought to reverse the already served three-month ban. A sole arbiter, Prof. Avv. Luigi Fumagalli confirmed the decision made by the Giudice di Ultima Instanza di Materia di Doping (GUI) to impose the sanction due to the Italian's "visits and recorded conversations" between the rider and Doctor Carlo Santuccione, who was the main subject of the investigation.
These visits and conversations reportedly showed Santuccione advising Di Luca to inject EPO before the 2004 Milano-Sanremo, preparing syringes and then on video, shows the doctor meeting Di Luca. The arbiter confirmed that the visits were in violation of the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) anti-doping regulations, but only because at the time Santuccione was not a member of the FCI. Since then, Santuccione has received a lifetime ban.
Di Luca has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and has resumed racing since the expiration of his suspension in January without incident.
CAS also rejected the appeal by CONI, which sought to increase the ban to two years, which would have meant Di Luca would not be allowed to ride the Giro d'Italia, for a violation of WADA code article 2.2, the use or attempt to use prohibited substances.
The arbiter ruled that the "alleged infringement", Di Luca's abnormally low hormone values detected after stage 17 of the 2007 Giro d'Italia, were never raised during the GUI proceedings and therefore CAS "could not rule on the issue within the scope of this arbitration."