Franco Pellizotti has signed his contract with Astana and will ride with the Kazakhstan team in 2014 but will not make his racing debut until May 2 after the team agreed to accept the rules of the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible (MPCC).
The MPCC was created to raise the bar in the fight against doping by imposing strict rules and self regulation for teams, sponsors and federations. Over 50 per cent of the UCI WorldTour teams and many other teams are now members, with Astana’s membership approved at last week’s annual meeting.
One of the MPCC’s rules says that teams cannot hire riders until two years after they have served any doping that is longer than six months. Pellizotti was banned for two years for a UCI Biological Passport violation and made his comeback with the Androni Giocattoli team in May 2012. Pellizotti raced with Astana team leader Vincenzo Nibali at Liquigas before is ban and is considered a key rider for the Tour de France as Nibali tries to take on Chris Froome (Team Sky).
“We’ve decided to respect the MPCC rules and so Franco will only start racing on May 2,” Astana team manager Giuseppe Martinelli told Cyclingnews.
“We’ve explained to him that it’s important for the team to respect the rules of the MPCC and so he’ll miss the early months of the season but ride the Giro d’Italia and then be at 100 per cent for the Tour de France. He’s a professional and knows how to prepare for big races and so it won’t be a problem. Lots of riders only start their season in late March. He’ll miss two months, not two years. It won’t be a problem.”
Under MPCC rules, Pellizotti can in theory only join a team on May 2, 2014 but Astana appears ready to try to bend the MPCC rules by signing a contract with Pellizotti that begins on January 1 and allowing him to wear the Astana jersey and attend training camps.
It is unclear if he will be paid by Astana before he is able to race.