Diego Ulissi will be able to return to racing in March after the Swiss Olympic Committee gave him a nine-month ban as punishment for his positive test for Salbutamol at the Giro d'Italia, his Lampre-Merida team has revealed. The Italian has only raced briefly since May and so his suspension will reportedly end on March 28. He attended a disciplinary hearing in December.
Ulissi tested positive after the 11th stage of the Giro d’Italia to Savona. Ulissi was shown to have 1900 ng/ml in his system, significantly higher than the 1000 ng/ml allowed by the UCI rules.
Ulissi had declared the use of a Ventolin inhaler – due to a bronchial spasm but struggled to explain such a highl level of Salbutamol. He underwent special tests in Switzerland in the summer to replicate the conditions of the race to assess if it could generate the same levels of Salbutamol.
Ulissi won two stages of the Giro d’Italia and was well placed overall before stage 11 but a crash during the stage saw him lose more than four minutes and drop out of contention. He quit the Giro d'Italia before stage 18, with a reported sore throat and fever.
The Lampre-Merida team offered its support to Ulissi but said it will take a few days to “evaluate the situation with more precision together with the medical staff” before making any decision about the future of the Italian rider in the team.
The team issued a statement from Ulissi. He retierated his innocence.
“Finally a decision has come today after a long and difficult period for me. I feel it is important to underline that its been recognised that I have not acted with the intent to improve my athletic performance, but it has been established that I committed negligently, which of course I regret, especially for the corresponding damage which has been caused to the team,” he said.
“I have always received great support from the team as well as from my family who have constantly stayed close to me throughout these difficult times. I am pleased that , in the light of this decision, my victories and results obtained remain unchanged. I can now start to concentrate and look forward to planning my return to racing.”