The Italian rider's association, the AACPI, appealed to the president of the sport's governing body to punish dopers with life bans on Thursday. In a letter to International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid, the AACPI leaders Amedeo Colombo and Gianni Bugno called for kicking dopers out of the sport unless they cooperate with authorities as a way to help cycling regain its credibility.
Speaking for its membership of over 250 Italian professionals, the letter was a response to McQuaid's announcement that the UCI will introduce a maximum doping sanction of four years in 2009. McQuaid indicated in that statement that he would like to introduce lifetime bans for a first-time offense of willful cheating, but could not as it was not part of the World Anti-doping Agency's (WADA) rules.
The AACPI letter called attention to recent doping cases involving the new blood boosting agent Mircera by three Italians and two Germans, and demanded action.
"The positive tests of [Riccardo] Riccò, [Emanuelle] Sella, [Leonardo] Piepoli, [Stefan] Schumacher, and [Bernard] Kohl are damaging, even more so because they are champion cyclists," the letter read. "Their conduct fuels the fires of those who unjustly maintain that the only way to win cycling races nowadays is by means of doping.
"This is why the UCI needs to act to eradicate every possible illegal temptation from the movement, and thereby send out the message that anybody who wilfully cheats is out of the game for good."
The letter also called for leniency for those who cooperate with the authorities as well as punishment for the "pushers and the doping scientists".