After an ultimatum from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Petrucci to tell cyclists to stop doping, Renato Di Rocco, president of the Italian cycling federation, said he would exclude Alberto Contador from racing the Giro d'Italia if he could.
Contador is currently awaiting a hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The appeal, brought by the UCI, is fighting the Spanish federation's ruling that cleared him of doping offences for his Clenbuterol positive found at last year's Tour de France. He is free to race until the CAS makes its ruling, but that will not happen until after the Giro d'Italia in May.
The presence of Contador in the race is only part of Italy's doping problems. The country has been hit by a number of high-profile cases, including that of two 2009 Giro d'Italia podium finishers, Danilo Di Luca (EPO) and Franco Pellizotti (blood passport), 2008 runner-up Riccardo Riccò (EPO), 2006 winner Ivan Basso, who admitted to involvement with Operación Puerto, as well as 2008 Olympic silver medalist Davide Rebellin.
CONI president Giovanni Petrucci, responding to a recent inquiry into more than 30 top riders and team staff over an alleged doping affair in Mantova, said that doping has become so prevalent that the federation needs to tell the riders "to stop because nobody believes you anymore," AP reported today.
The CONI announced yesterday that it would look into the evidence assembled by the public prosecutor in Mantova now that the preliminary investigation has concluded.
A judge will decide if any of those named will go on trial for criminal doping activities, while the CONI's anti-doping prosecutor would look into possible sporting sanctions. Amongst those on the dossier are a number of riders on the Lampre-ISD team including Damiano Cunego and team manager Giuseppe Saronni as well as former riders Alessandro Ballan and Marzio Bruseghin.
"We've asked for strong action because this really requires something serious: the reality is that the number of positive riders forms a good chunk of cycling history," Petrucci said. "I'm extremely worried, and it's got to be cycling itself that takes concrete moves and says, 'Enough'."
Di Rocco agreed that something needed to be done. "We've got to stop this situation, which is dramatic," said Di Rocco. "If I could stop some riders from participating in the Giro, I would, starting with Contador. But that's not in my powers, so we'll think of something else."