Eugenio Bani, the 18-year-old Junior rider who recently made headlines because of a positive doping control for pregnancy hormone HcG (Human chorionic gonadotrophin), will become a professional with the Amore & Vita squad in 2010.
Despite being suspended by the Italian national anti-doping tribunal for 21 months, Amore & Vita team boss Ivano Fanini has decided to sign the rider in an effort to raise public awareness of the case. Bani, whose suspension is only applicable on Italian soil, thereby becomes the youngest pro cyclist in the world. He will be racing exclusively outside of Italy until his suspension ends.
In a press release, Fanini explained his move. "The athlete is the subject of great unjustice, due to the corrupt system that holds cycling today, especially in Italy. The federation rules do not foresee controls in the younger categories, thereby leaving the field open to meddlers able to freely dope young riders, undisturbed. That is what happened to this athlete, who cannot have doped on his own initiative.
"It is unthinkable that an 18-year-old would be able to find a substance like Human chorionic gonadotrophin without the help of persons close to him. The boy is only a puppet in the hands of people that are more experienced in cycling."
Fanini decided to sign Bani "to help him understand his error but above all to help him take the right path again. It will be the opportunity to put some light on the real responsibilities of the staff surrounding him and to push the FCI to create rules to protect these young riders."