The Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) has lifted its ban on riders with previous doping offences from participating in the national championships and representing the national team following a ruling by the FCI’s federal court on Wednesday. The news comes just days after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that a similar bylaw of the British Olympic Association was in violation of the WADA code.
The FCI measures were introduced by president Renato Di Rocco in June of last year, and survived a legal challenge from Danilo Di Luca on the eve of the national championships. The provision prevented any rider who had served a doping suspension of six months or more from riding for the national team, and had even prompted Alessandro Petacchi to investigate the possibility of switching nationalities in order to compete in the world championships in Copenhagen.
In October, however, CAS found against the International Olympic Committee’s so-called “Osaka Rule”, a measure barring athletes who had served doping suspensions from at least one further Olympic Games on top of their original ban, and this prompted Annalisa Cucinotta to launch a further appeal to the FCI’s federal court.
Cucinotta, who served a two-year suspension after testing positive for the anabolic steroid boldenone at the track World Cup in Cali in December 2008, brought her case to the FCI last winter, and following the CAS ruling earlier this week, the outcome seemed to be inevitable.
“I’ve understood how long sporting justice takes in Italy, I was the only one to stand up like this,” Cucinotta told Gazzetta dello Sport. “This won’t give me back what I’ve lost, but I can keep doing what I like. For four years, it’s seemed like I’ve been riding with square wheels, but now I hope things are taking a turn in the right direction.”
The verdict means that riders such as Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Alessandro Petacchi and Stefano Garzelli can line up at the Italian championships in Trentino in June. They may also be considered for Paolo Bettini’s squads for the London 2012 Olympics and the world championships in Valkenburg. After the initial CAS verdict on the "Osaka Rule" in October, however, Renato Di Rocco had pointedly noted that selection for the Italian national team remained at the discretion of the FCI, telling ANSA: "We will continue not to select dopers. The blue jersey is handed out at our discretion."