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Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri
CONI investigators given permission to use evidence from the case
The Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping prosecutor has confirmed it will begin to investigate the accusations of doping sparked by the police investigation in Mantova involving past and present riders and staff from the Lampre team.
CONI confirmed in a statement that it first requested the evidence and documentation from the investigation in 2010 and that the judge handling the case in Mantova has agreed to supply it now that the investigative phase has concluded.
On Friday, Mantova public prosecutor Antonino Condorelli announced the conclusion of the investigation and said a preliminary judge is set to decide if 32 people should go on trial.
Damiano Cunego, Alessandro Ballan, Marzio Bruseghin, Michael Rasmussen and Lampre-ISD team manager Giuseppe Saronni are amongst the 32 people named in Italian media. Cunego won the Giro dell’Appennino one-day race on Sunday and Alessandro Ballan finished sixth in Paris-Roubaix. He now rides for the BMC team alongside fellow Italian Mauro Santambrogio, who was also facing formal charges.
The Mantova investigation centred on the sale and use of prohibited substances including EPO, ephedrine, testosterone and cortico-steroids. Many of the Lampre riders used to travel from across Italy to see Nigrelli in Mantova. The riders and Nigrelli have denied any wrong doing, with Nigrelli insisting that he only supplied legal medicines to Lampre team at discount prices.
The Mantova public prosecutor explained that the police used phone taps and tailed people as part of the investigation.
“Beyond the intercepted telephone calls, carabinieri from the NAS [the Italian anti-drug squad], carried out shadowing and ambush operations,” Condorelli told Corriere della Sera newspaper. “That is how we discovered that Alessandro Ballan would have undergone an auto-blood transfusion in a surgery in Montichiari, where a doctor, Fiorenzo Egeo Bonazzi, is also under investigation.”
BMC stopped Ballan from riding Paris-Roubaix last year but refused to do the same this year despite the accusations of blood doping by the Italian public prosecutor.
However with the investigation closed, the Anti-Doping Procura can now act and may decide to question and investigate Ballan and the other people in the list of 32. They could then face a disciplinary hearing and be banned before any criminal trial begins in Mantova.