The expert panel assembled by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) to review Danilo Di Luca's anti-doping controls following the Monte Zoncolan stage of the 2007 Giro d'Italia closed today, preferring to delay its verdict. After prosecutors made their accusations and the cyclist's defence retorted, the hearing - starting at 10:00 AM, without Di Luca present, in Rome - was closed so that new information could be reviewed.
CONI believes that the 32 year-old Italian from Abruzzo took injections that altered his hormone level in the time between the International Cycling Union (UCI) anti-doping control following Stage 17 and the controversial control by CONI later on that same evening. Di Luca, who went on to win the Giro by 1'55" over Luxemburger Andy Schleck, was heard by CONI prosecutor Ettore Torri in December in relation to the adverse findings.
The expert panel, Giudice di Ultima Istanza (GUI), first heard the accusations from CONI's anti-doping prosecutor Fabio Filocamo. "We are making a precise and concrete accusation [of] a physiological manipulation with the infusion of plasma," Filocamo said, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The defence responded and then, around 12:30, the expert panel delayed its decision until April 16. The delay gives it time to review experts' findings and seek clarification into the question of whether or not there was foul play following Stage 17 or if other factors were involved.
Any judgment made by CONI would need to be approved or denied by the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) disciplinary commission, however, the delay by CONI's expert panel will reduce the amount of time Di Luca has to appeal any suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The LPR Brakes rider was not required to be present today for the hearing, and is starting in the 38th Settimana Ciclista Lombarda. (GB)