Ulissi has never been formally sanctioned by the UCI but has been temporarily suspended by Lampre since news of the positive test broke in June. The following month, the Italian travelled to Lausanne to undergo a controlled excretion study as part of his defence.
A report on Spanish website ciclo21.com claims that Ulissi has received a three-month ban from the UCI, which will expire on September 22 – three months on from his last race, the Tour of Slovenia.
Speaking to Cyclingnews on Friday morning, Lampre-Merida manager Brent Copeland said that while Ulissi’s lawyer had informed the team that his client was free to return to racing, they had not received any official notice to that effect from the UCI.
“Diego got an authorisation through his lawyer from the UCI to say that as far they’re concerned, he could race,” Copeland told Cyclingnews. “We haven’t heard anything official yet but we’re hoping that we’ll have news later this afternoon.”
Lampre-Merida’s medical staff has requested clarification on the matter from the governing body and is anticipating a response later on Friday. As well as seeking confirmation from the UCI, Cyclingnews understands that the team is also evaluating whether Ulissi's immediate re-activation would conform with the regulations of the Movement for Credible Cycling, of which it is a member.
The ciclo21.com report also claims that Ulissi had agreed that he would not take part in the world championships road race in Ponferrada on September 28. Slated as a potential leader of the Italian team after his two stage wins at the Giro, national coach Davide Cassani has made plans without Ulissi through the summer and he did not feature in the pre-selection announced on Friday.
Ulissi’s name has never featured on the lists of sanctioned and provisionally suspended riders maintained on the UCI’s website, but his Lampre-Merida team has withheld him from racing. The squad also pulled Chris Horner from its Vuelta a España roster after he returned low levels of cortisol in testing carried out by the MPCC.
The amount of salbutamol found in the Ulissi’s urine on stage 11 of the Giro – 1900 ng/ml – was almost twice the permissible limit of 1,000 ng/ml, and far in excess of the two daily 100ng puffs of Ventolin he had declared at anti-doping. Ulissi won two stages of the Giro, at Viggiano and Montecopiolo, and finished a surprising second in the Barolo time trial before withdrawing ahead of stage 18, citing illness.
Speaking in June, Lampre team doctor Carlo Guardascione described the levels of salbutamol as “absolutely inexplicable.” With the support of his team, Ulissi underwent a controlled excretion study in Lausanne in a bid to shed further light on the adverse analytical finding.