The Movement of Credible Cycling (MPCC) has announced it has suspended the membership of the Italian Neri Sottoli team until October 2015 and warned the Astana Continental team it faces a five-week self-imposed ban from racing if the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation decides to revoke its decision to suspend the team's activities.
The MPCC did not specify why it voted to suspend the Neri Sottoli team. In October it said the Tuscan team "did not forewarn spontaneously, following the positive control of its rider Matteo Rabottini, and did not provide an explanation acceptable to the general meeting, to which it did not show up." It added that "the membership of Neri Sottoli team for 2015 will be dependent on the content of new explanations."
Neri Sottoli team manager Angelo Citracca opted to send a French speaking directeur sportif, Serge Parsani, to the recent MPCC meeting to defend its position. Citracca also attacked the MPCC in a statement issued in October, claiming that the team had told the MPCC about Rabottini's case and suspended the rider on September 16, four days after the UCI announced he had failed an anti-doping test for EPO.
Cyclingnews understands Rabottini's B sample was only analysed this week, with a final result expected in a few days time.
The doping cases of Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio are often linked to the 2014 Neri Sottoli team but technically this appears to be incorrect. Citracca insists they are totally separate teams, managed by different companies and registered in different countries. As a consequence it is wrong to suggest that the 2014 Neri Sottoli team has had three doping cases in the last two years. Citracca claims the MPCC is aware of all these details, yet still opted to suspend the team.
"If the MPCC decided to suspend the team then there's not a lot I can do about it but I won't lose any sleep over it," he told Cyclingnews.
"I don't think it's a blow to the image of the team because we followed the rules of MPCC. This year's team is totally separate to last year's and so it is wrong to associate the different doping cases. Rabottini's case is ongoing and we do not even know if he positive for doping yet. I think the MPCC has acted too soon."
A warning to the Astana Continental team
The MPCC statement confirmed that the movement accepted that the Astana WorldTour team of Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali had "complied with MPCC rules by self-suspending for one week after two positive cases. The team didn't compete in the Tour of Beijing (World Tour) and two Italian Europe Tour races." However it warned that the Astana Continental team would face a five-week suspension if the Kazakhstani Federation revoked its suspension and resumed racing.
"The board of directors took note of the decision by Kazakh federation to suspend the Continental Team Astana’s activity," the MPCC statement reads.
"If the second opinions (counter analysis) confirm the first tests and if Astana Continental were to resume its activity, it should start by self-suspending for five weeks, just as MPCC rules says (one week because of the second positive case and four weeks due to the third)."