Mauro Santambrogio has been banned for three years by the UCI after traces of testosterone were discovered in an out-of-competition urine test taken last October while he was serving a ban for a earlier EPO positive.
Santambrogio told Cyclingnews that he was prescribed testosterone as treatment for erectile and fertility problems as he tried to become a father. He claimed he was not training for a comeback at the time but agreed to join Amore e Vita in December. His return was stopped when his case emerged. Almost a year on, the Italian has been formally banned until October 21, 2017 and his name was added to the official UCI list of riders who have committed Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRV).
Santambrogio did not fight the case, preferring to accept the ban under an Acceptance of Consequences procedure as allowed by article 8.4 of the UCI Anti-Doping regulations.
Santambrogio first tested positive during the 2013 Giro d'Italia while riding for the Vini Fantini team. Santambrogio won stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia in the snow atop the Jafferau and finished the race in ninth place overall, but his startling performances throughout the early part of the season had already aroused much suspicion from observers. On June 3, it was announced that Santambrogio – like his then-teammate Danilo Di Luca – had tested positive for EPO. Before riding for Vini Fantini, Santambrogio rode for BMC and Lampre.
In a letter sent to Tuttobiciweb website last February, his lawyer Giuseppe Napoleone said he hoped to explain what happened so his client 'avoids becoming a sacrificial lamb of the legitimate fight against doping.' Napoleone suggested that Santambrogio's case was complex, claiming that he could not have applied for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to use the testosterone because he was not a UCI licence holder at the time. Santambrogio had also apparently been removed from the UCI and Italian Federation testing pool. However the UCI anti-doping rules allow for the testing of riders during previous established ban for doping.
At the end of 2013, Santambrogio made a vague threat to end his life but later claimed the support of people via Twitter and the internet saved him. He has now given up any hope of returning to the professional peloton and has instead started a training and coaching business in Italy.
"I respect the UCI sentence but I decided to change my life a long time ago," Santambrogio told Tuttobiciweb. "I just want to say that I don't think the ban is fair because I explained everything at the time. Now I want to focus on my new life and look to the future. Racing is part of my past and to be clear I want to say that I've definitely retired from racing and will not be back."