The Italian cycling federation has confirmed that all riders who have been sanctioned for doping in the past will be prevented from taking part in the Italian championships and from representing Italy at the world championships.
It was previously understood that the FCI’s decree covered only infractions which took place after 1 August 2008, but federation president Renato Di Rocco told Gazzetta dello Sport on Saturday that this was not the case. “There is no time limit,” Di Rocco explained.
The FCI decision not only means that riders such as Ivan Basso, Danilo Di Luca, Stefano Garzelli and Michele Scarponi are unable to contest the tricolour jersey in Sicily next weekend, it also eliminates Alessandro Petacchi from contention for the leadership of the Italian team at the Worlds in Copenhagen.
With the Copenhagen circuit set to finish in a bunch sprint, Petacchi was among the favourites to lead the Italian squad, but misses out because he tested positive for salbutamol in 2007. Last summer, Petacchi was also questioned by the Italian Olympic Committee when he was placed under investigation by Italian police as part of a Padova-based doping probe.
“It’s a very hard and restrictive clamp down,” Italian manager Paolo Bettini said. “I’ll certainly be missing important men. I accept the regulation, it means that I will be even more concentrated on the promising youngsters that we have.”
In theory, Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) could be the man to benefit from Petacchi's absence, but it is unclear as to whether his 2005 positive test for betamethasone will rule him out of consideration, as he received only a warning from the Italian federation for the offence, which he said was explicable by the use of an anti-inflammatory cream.
Gazzetta dello Sport also reports that Danilo Di Luca will appeal the FCI’s decision in the coming days in a late bid to be on the start line in Aci Catena next Saturday. Di Luca tested positive for CERA in 2009, and returned to racing this season in the colours of Katusha.