Danilo Di Luca positive for EPO

Danilo Di Luca has returned a positive test for EPO in an out-of-competition control carried out on April 29, the Monday before the Giro d’Italia began.

The veteran Italian had belatedly signed for Vini Fantini-Selle Italia the previous week after being left without a team when Acqua & Sapone folded at the end of the 2012. He made his return to racing on April 27 at the GP Larciano, finishing in 10th place.

Vini Fantini directeur sportif Luca Scinto confirmed the news of Di Luca's positive for EPO to Cyclingnews.

"It's true," Scinto said in a quiet, sad voice. "He's mad, he's a cretino, he needs treatment. There's nothing else to say. We gave him a second chance and the sponsors put their faith in him and this is how he pays us back. It's crazy that a rider thinks they can get away with it like that."

Di Luca did not answer his phone when contacted by Cyclingnews.

Di Luca previously tested positive for CERA at the 2009 Giro d’Italia and was handed a two-year suspension, subsequently reduced to 15 months after he apparently provided information on doping methodologies to the Italian Olympic Committee.

The 37-year-old Italian also served a three-month suspension in 2007 for his implication in the Oil for Drugs doping investigation centred around Dr. Carlo Santuccione. He had also been prevented from riding the 2004 Tour de France for the same reason.

Di Luca’s 2007 Giro d’Italia victory was also mired in controversy when he returned a suspect sample after the Zoncolan stage – the so-called “pipì degli angeli” – although he subsequently escaped sanction.

In spite of the fact that he had only two days of racing in his legs before this year’s Giro, Di Luca put in a series of eyebrow-raising performances at the race. He came close to stage victory after a late attack on the road to Serra San Bruno on stage 4 and was also aggressive in the finale to Vicenza.

Di Luca had also put in a startling bout of pace-making on the Jafferau in support of teammate Mauro Santambrogio on stage 14.

Speaking to Cyclingnews earlier in the Giro, Di Luca insisted that his strong performances were explicable by “training well all winter” and said that he hoped to continue racing for two more years.

In recent days, reports in the Italian media had linked Di Luca with a move to Astana for the 2014 season.

The UCI released a statement soon after the news broke, stating that, "the provisional suspension of Mr. Danilo Di Luca remains in force until a hearing panel convened by the Italian Cycling Federation determines whether he has committed an anti-doping rule violation under Article 21 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules.Mr. Danilo Di Luca has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample. Under the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the UCI is unable to provide any additional information at this time."

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