Italian ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca withdrew from the World Road Race Championships on Thursday, calling his treatment "a scandal". The Italian bowed to pressure from the Stuttgart organisers who objected to the participation of the Giro d'Italia Champion who has been the subject of two separate doping investigations this year.
The organisers announced Thursday that they had taken out a court injunction against the participation of both Di Luca and the reigning World Champion, Paolo Bettini, the latter based on his non-willingness of signing the declaration that the organizers had drawn up. Bettini was also said to having supplied testosterone to T-Mobile's' Patrik Sinkewitz, who later tested positive. The rumour, broadcasted by German television station ZDF, was vigorously denied both Bettini's and Sinkewitz' lawyers.
Di Luca had been under scrutiny by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) since 2004 as part of the long-running "Oil for Drugs" investigation, over alleged intercepted phone converstions with the Italian doctor Carlo Santuccione who was accused of supplying doping products to athletes. The Italian prosecutor in charge of the case dismissed the allegations in July, but the CONI anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri refused to shelve the case.
Di Luca was one of the riders named in June as returning abnormally low hormone values in Giro d'Italia doping tests. The UCI turned over Di Luca's anti-doping records to CONI on Wednesday after a three month delay. CONI recommended Thursday that the rider receive a four month sanction.
Di Luca denies any involvement in the scandals, and signed the UCI 'Rider's Commitment for a New Cycling' agreement in June. Di Luca left the event still maintaining his innocence. "I have made sacrifices, like all the riders - for months I trained myself for the World Championships, but Sunday I will not be able to participate."" Di Luca stated. "Tomorrow the CAS is closed and I cannot appeal," he told Gazzetta della Sport, referring to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ruled in favor of the participation of Spaniard Alejandro Valverde on Wednesday.
Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A swimmer in her younger days, Laura made the change to cycling later in life, but was immediately swept up by a huge passion for the sport. Riding for fitness quickly gave way to the competitive urge, and a decade of racing later she can look back on a number of high profile races and say with confidence, "I started". While her racing days are over for the most part, she continues to dabble in cyclo-cross and competing against fellow pathletes on the greenways of Raleigh, North Carolina.
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