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Italian judge set to decide if 32 named in Mantova doping investigation should go on trial

By:
Barry Ryan
Published:
April 08, 2011, 19:03 BST,
Updated:
April 09, 2011, 12:55 BST
Edition:
Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, April 8, 2011
Race:
Paris - Roubaix
Alessandro Ballan (BMC)

Alessandro Ballan (BMC)

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Cunego, Ballan, Rasmussen and Saronni among those named

The Mantova-based investigation into doping practices centred around Italian pharmacist Guido Nigrelli and the Lampre squad has concluded, and a judge will now decided whether to charge the 32 people named in the final report made by public prosecutor Antonino Condorelli.

The Gazzetta di Mantova and Tuttobiciweb.it list Damiano Cunego, Alessandro Ballan, Michael Rasmussen and Lampre-ISD team manager Giuseppe Saronni as being among those who could face charges after being named in the inquiry. The suspected crimes are not specified in the reports but doping is illegal under Italian law.

The investigation centred around the sale and use of prohibited substances including EPO, ephedrine, testosterone and corticoids. Many of the Lamnpre riders used to travel from across Italy to see Nigrelli in Mantova.

According to Tuttobici, also among the 32 people risking trial include  directeurs sportif Fabrizio Bontempi and Maurizio Piovani, and soigneur Fabio Della Torre. 13 Lampre past and present riders have also been named by Tuttobici: Cunego, Ballan, Marco Bandiera, Emanuele Bindi, Marzio Bruseghin, Mauro Da Dalto, Francesco Gavazzi, Mirko Lorenzetto, Manuele Mori, Simone Ponzi, Mauro Santambrogio, Francesco Tomei and Daniele Pietropolli.

Ballan and Santambrogio, who now ride for BMC, were pulled from the squad’s roster ahead of the 2010 Paris-Rouabaix when news of the investigation first broke twelve months ago, although the pair were allowed to return to racing little over a month later. Ballan has been named as joint team leader for BMC at this year's Paris-Roubaix and has always denied any wrong doing, but the team has yet to comment on the news from Italy.

Everyone linked to the Lampre team has also denied the accusations in the past, with Nigrelli telling Gazzetta dello Sport last year that people from the team only purchased legal medicines from him.

In a terse statement, the team claimed they had not been informed of the closure and recommendations of the investigating judge in Mantova.

“The team has heard via the media that a press conference was called by the Procura di Mantova regarding the doping investigation it has been carrying out. We could understand that the Procura has concluded the investigation involving some people, including athletes and managers," Saronni said in the statement.

"At the moment, those of the team involved and their lawyers have not yet received any communication or notification of this, so it's obviously not possible to make any comment. If the news was confirmed, the team will act without hesitation in order to clarify its position with the investigating judge.”

Rasmussen named

Of the non-Lampre riders named in the investigation, the controversial Michael Rasmussen is the most high-profile. The Dane was removed from the 2007 Tour de France while wearing the yellow jersey after deceiving drug testers on his whereabouts in the build-up to the race.

Others named by Tuttobici are Francesco Bonazzi, Geo Bonazzi, Nicola Castrini, Sergio Gelati, Roberto Messina, former riders Paolo Bossoni, Paolo Pezzini, Pietro Caucchioli, Massimiliano Mori and Mariano Piccoli, mountain biker Sebastian Gilmozzi, footballer Matteo Zambroni, and former Lampre, Lotto and Saunier Duval doctor Josè Ibarguren.

The Gazzetta di Mantova reports that 58 people had been investigated before the compilation of the final report.

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