Androni Giocattoli rider Massimo Giunti has been provisionally suspended by the International Cycling Union (UCI) after testing positive for EPO in a targeted out-of-competition test carried out last month.
Giunti, 35, had been scheduled to start Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday morning, but was pulled out of the race following news of his positive result for the illegal blood-booster.
"It's a bitter blow and I'm shocked but it's strange too," said Androni Giocattoli principal Gianni Savio. "I found out when I was leaving the hotel and we left Giunti there. I'm depressed about the whole thing because at our training camp in November, we devoted half a day to a course about anti-doping.
"We keep telling the riders, especially the ones who rode in the old days, that the world of cycling has totally changed."
The World Anti-doping Agency's (WADA) laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland reported a positive finding for EPO in a urine test carried out on February 23. The UCI said in a statement to day that Giunti's non-negative control had been carried out in response to irregularities detected under the biological passport programme.
"This adverse finding was a direct result of a targeted urine test conducted because of an unusual blood profile in Mr Giunti’s biological passport," read the UCI's statement.
Giunti has the right to request analysis of a B sample.
The Italian had been competing in his first season for Androni Giocattoli after a transfer from Miche - Silver Cross - Selle Italia at the end of 2009. Giunti finished fourth on stage four of last month's Giro di Sardegna, three days after his positive control was taken. A professional since 1999, he has never claimed a professional victory.
Despite the news of Giunti's positive breaking on the opening day of Tirreno-Adriatico, Savio said he still expects his team to be invited to the Giro d'Italia in May.
"As an extra deterrent [to doping] we added a clause to riders' contracts. They have to pay the full value of their contract if they test positive. This case is about Massimo Giunti, not the team. I don't think it will affect our chances of being invited to the Giro," he said.