By Paul Verkuylen
Alessandro Petacchi has been suspended by his Milram team after the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri demanded a one year ban for the 33 year-old Italian sprint ace for his non-negative test for the asthma drug Salbutamol during this year's Giro d'Italia, meaning Petacchi will miss this year's Tour de France, which starts in London on Saturday.
While Petacchi, who will be replaced on the squad's Tour team by Ukrainian Andrei Grivko, has dispensation for the asthma product the levels that were recorded at the Giro were abnormally high, leading to CONI's investigation. Even without the Milram's sidelining of the rider, Petacchi likely would have been forced to skip the Tour with its director Christian Prudhomme adamant he'll prevent any rider under investigation from starting his prestigious event.
Although a decision from the Italian federation on Petacchi's sentence is pending, Team Milram manager, Gerrie van Gerwen, has pulled his star rider from competition until the case is complete. "either way, Petacchi will remain on non-active status," confirmed van Gerwen.
Van Gerwen emphasised that the sprinter will have the chance to defend himself, and will be innocent until proven guilty, however, should the rider be found guilty then there is no place on the team for him. "In all our contracts it states, who ever gets found using doping products, will get booted," a to-the-point van Gerwen told AFP.
Petacchi, who signed the UCI's anti doping charter on Tuesday, could be required to repay a year's salary to the organisation under conditions of the new agreement, should he be found guilty of doping.