Danilo Di Luca has publicly confessed that he doped during his career in front of an audience of 500 students but insisted that he has learnt from his mistakes and is ready to make a comeback in 2011.
The disgraced Italian was speaking at an event organised by Italian priest Marco Pozza called 'I've got a dream: I'll tell you about it'.
Pozza raced with Filippo Pozzato as a schoolboy and met Di Luca's lawyer by chance on a train. That led to Di Luca's public confession.
The Italian has been implicated in a long series of doping investigations during his career and was banned for two years in the summer of 2009 after testing positive for CERA during the Giro d'Italia, when he finished second overall behind Denis Menchov. However his ban was cut to just nine months after he revealed details of his doping techniques to Italian police.
"It's not important how you fall but how you get back up," Di Luca said during the event, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Why did I do it? That's a good question. When you're in a system, you end up being part of it and you make mistakes. However I told the investigating magistrate Roberti everything and in some ways that was liberating. I spoke about myself and how the doping system works."
Despite being 35 in January, Di Luca is convinced he can make a successful comeback in 2011.
"Now I'm ready to make a comeback with my head held high, sure that I can win without cheating," he said.
"Ten years ago it would have been impossible. I haven't got any proof but I think most riders were doping. Now things have changed. I've spoken to other riders about it and I'm convinced that it's in the interest of talented riders to clean things up."
"I've been training hard for two months with the same passion as always and even with a bit more, because I can't wait to race again. The thing I miss the most is the adrenaline. I'll win again, you can be sure about that."
Di Luca has been looking for a team for 2011 for several months and hoped to sign his new contract during his talk to the students.
He claims several teams are interested and still hopes to ride the Giro d'Italia. However his search for a contract has been complicated by warnings from race director Angelo Zomegnan that he is not welcome at the 2011 Giro.
"I was hoping to sign my new contract in front of you all but we still haven't reached a final deal," Di Luca said. "There two or three teams that are interested and one in particular could be right for me. I hope to get things sorted out as soon as possible and I'll be back to work with you even more."
After the event, priest Marco Pozza offered Di Luca his support but also warned him of his responsibility.
"Everyone can make mistakes in life but I think Danilo wants to rebuild his career and his dignity," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I'm happy to support him and I think he's got 500 new friends. That's a lot of support but also a huge responsibility."
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