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Suspicions remain despite negative B sample
Vania Rossi's B urine sample was declared negative for CERA on Friday, but the Italian Olympic Committee has confirmed they will still investigate the case and will use other evidence and expert advice to try and ascertain if Rossi may have taken the blood-boosting drug.
The Rome ant-doping laboratory confirmed the negative result to the Commitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano on Friday, revealing there was a clear difference in the test results. The Rome lab is reported to be the first in the world to detect CERA in urine instead of blood and the difference in the two results could be due to natural degrading of CERA in urine.
Rossi's A sample was analysed on January 10, while the B sample was only analysed two and a half months later.
"There was a significant amount of CERA in the first test, so much so that there we no doubts at all; in the second test, evidently because of the degrading of the urine over time, the amount (of CERA) wasn't within the limits established by WADA," the head of the Rome lab Francesco Botrè told Gazzetta dello Sport on Saturday.
Some of Rossi's supporters believed the negative test will end any suspicions about her, but the Italian anti-doping investigator Ettore Torre moved quickly to say he will continue to investigate why the A sample tested positive for CERA.
"We're going to examine the case in the next few days, with the support of our own experts, so that we can make a complete evaluation of the case and take any eventual action," he told Italian media.
It may be difficult for Torre to accuse Rossi of failing a dope test because there is no confirmation of a B sample. However the presence of CERA in the A sample could be enough to allow the investigators to accuse Rossi of attempted doping, which can still be punished with a two-year ban. She may also still be investigated for doping offenses under Italian law and risks disciplinary action from the Italian army, who she raced for when she tested positive.
Importantly the case indicated for the first time the possible rapid degrading of CERA in urine samples and the Rome lab has already notified WADA of the problem. A solution for the future maybe to reduce the time allowed between the testing of A and B samples.
Rossi refused to speak to the media in detail as she returned home from Rome on Friday but plans to hold a press conference with her lawyers to next week to explain her case.