Liquigas-Doimo has put its support behind Franco Pellizotti following the International Cycling Union's (UCI) request on Monday for disciplinary action to be taken against the Italian due to irregularities discovered in his biological passport. The Italian squad said they will cooperate with the investigation, but will conduct their own internal investigation into Pellizotti's blood profiles before taking any possible action against him.
"Further to the statement made yesterday by the UCI concerning Franco Pellizotti, Liquigas Sport would like to announce that it acknowledges the decision made by the responsible authorities in compliance with their current regulations," said the team in a statement issued on Tuesday.
"In order to fully understand the situation and the factors which led to this decision, Liquigas Sport has tasked its own physician, Doctor Roberto Corsetti, to analyse the medical and scientific aspects relating to this case.
"According to current analyses, the evidence which has been presented does not seem to scientifically prove with certainty any improper conduct by the athlete. Liquigas Sport has faith in the explanations that will be provided by Franco Pellizotti and by the experts whom he has hired."
Pellizotti had been scheduled to race as one of his team's leaders at the Giro d'Italia, which begins in Amsterdam on Saturday. The 32-year-old finished second overall at the Giro in 2009, but was withdrawn from his team's roster for this year's event on Monday. The team expressed its disappointment with the timing of the UCI's announcement.
"Liquigas Sport is extremely disappointed about the action that has been taken, with particular reference to the untimely notification of the athlete’s alleged abnormal values. These values actually date back to the summer of 2009 but have only now been made public on the eve of such an important engagement."
Despite stating their support for their rider, Liquigas confirmed that they will meet all regulations in relation to the case. They added that they will be prepared to take defamation action against Pellizotti or organisations they believe may have brought their name into disrepute as a result of the case.
"Pending further developments and until the final ruling is announced, Liquigas Sport would like to state that it is ready to immediately take all legal action necessary in order to safeguard its image, as it has already done in recent months: both with regard to the cyclist should any improper conduct on his behalf be confirmed and also with regard to the authorities and institutions which may have unjustly caused this damage.
"Liquigas Sport also hopes that the final decision will be made in reasonable time so that it may intervene as quickly as possible with suitable action against the authorities concerned."