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Jimmy Briceño (Loteria Del Tachira) wins the stage
Contract negotiations halted after rider recorded 63% haematocrit
Briceño was going through preliminary medical tests with the Venezuelan Federation when he recorded the high level, 13% higher than the UCI's upper limit of 50. As a result, the UCI refused the 27-year-old entry into the biological passport programme and Savio called an immediate halt to the contract negotiations.
"Jimmy Briceño, I will never ever sign with him. For me, it is easy the question. Never will Jimmy Briceño ride on our team." an adamant Savio told Cyclingnews ahead of the second stage of the Tour de Langkawi.
The Italian team has long had links with the South American country, through their sponsorship deal. When the Venezuelan government came to Savio at the beginning of the year requesting that the team sign a further two of the country's riders, he and the national federation decided to plump for the top two riders at the Vuelta a Tachira, Briceño and Carlos Galvez.
Savio was again adamant on the point that he had not signed anything with either rider before he received the test results. Happy with what he saw on Galvez's results the rider will join the team upon completion of the Vuelta a Dominica. Briceño will have to look elsewhere if he hopes to move up the ladder, with Savio stating that he is done with second chances. While he has former dopers Franco Pellizotti and Emanuele Sella on his squad, the team manager says things are different now.
"I want to study what is their position in the medical test. In the past I have offered a second possibility to riders who have doped," he said. "In the past there was a different situation. Now, I will never offer a second opportunity. If a rider is doped, for me he is finished. Never will I sign with a rider who has doped now, because the situation is totally different. With all the problems with the doping and the scandals, that today a rider thinks that he wants to do that."
The incident hasn't hurt Savio's relationship with Venezuela and he now has five of their riders on his books. He believes that the younger riders in his team hold the key to the prosperity of the country's cycling. "We have two young riders Yonder Godoy and Carlos Gimenez. These riders will represent the future of Venezuelan cycling," said Savio.
"Gimenez is only 19. So I signed a contract with him for four years and the same with Yonder Godoy, but I put him in another team Mantiti, which is an under-23 team, for this year."
Savio's Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela team is currently racing at the Tour de Langkawi.