Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport has revealed details of the Mantova doping investigation that has engulfed the Lampre team and led to the BMC team pulling former world champion Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio from their Giro d’Italia squad.
Former Lampre riders Mauro Da Dalto (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Marco Bandiera (Quick Step) have also been pulled from their current teams for the Giro d’Italia, while the Spanish Movistar team is under pressure to decide if Marzio Bruseghin should be part of their squad for the race.
Ballan and Santambrogio were first pulled from competition last spring as news of the investigation emerged. The BMC team management allowed them to return to racing later in the year after holding their own internal investigation. Now Gazzetta dello Sport has published damning evidence and details of police phone taps that link Ballan and other former Lampre riders to the Mantova pharmacist Guido Nigrelli at the centre of the case.
The 32 riders and staff from the 2009 Lampre team are accused of having taken “banned medicines and substances that are not justified by pathological conditions and can modify performance,” and of “having bought or obtained drugs from illegal sources.” Ballan is also accused of blood doping.
Gazzetta dello Sport describes the police evidence as shocking and deeply distressing and publish several extracts.
On April 1, 2009, Ballan talks to Nigrelli about growth hormone:
Ballan: “Is that G?”
Nigrelli: “Yes, of course.”
Ballan: “But how do you take it?”
Nigrelli: “By mouth.”
Ballan: “Have you got some?”
Nigrelli: “It’s being delivered on Tuesday.”
On April 6, 2009, Nigrelli talked to Fiorenzo Bonazzi, asking if he can send Ballan for “the treatment that we’ve already done.” According to Gazzetta dello Sport the police establish that “the athlete has undergone ten transfusions.”
On April 20, 2009, Ballan speaks to Nigrelli about taking EPO.
Nigrelli: “How many have you done?”
Ballan: “This is the fifth one.”
He then adds a little later: “This is how I’ve done EPO...”
On May 4, 2009, Nigrelli talks about Ballan to fellow rider Daniele Pietropolli. “Without chemicals Ballan would never have made it.”
The evidence has emerged after the Mantova investigating magistrate Antonino Condorelli concluded his investigation. A pre-trial magistrate will now study the evidence and decide which of the 32 riders and staff from the Lampre team will go on trial.
Ballan confirmed to Cyclingnews that other evidence against him had emerged during the investigation but said he plans to contest it when he sees the pre-trial magistrate on May 12. Cyclingnews attempted to contact Ballan regarding Gazzetta dello Sport's recent allegations, however he was unavailable for comment.