Liquigas may release Paolini

Paolini and Ballan

Paolini and Ballan (Image credit: Sirotti)

Liquigas described in a press release the conditions under which it may suspend Luca Paolini and cited the ProTour ethical code signed by all ProTour teams.

Thus far, Liquigas has taken no disciplinary action against Paolini, but it confirmed that "if there is a request for a trial in front a magistrate or if there is an inquiry by the CONI anti-doping commission, the rider will be submitted suspension, while waiting for the investigations to develop."

30 year-old Paolini is still being questioned regarding the evidence found during the raids of homes and gyms in Italy, last fall. 22 people were arrested (none cyclists) and evidence worth six million euro was sequestered during an investigation dubbed Operazione Athena (named after a gym in Lombardy, 'Athena,' were one of the raids were made - ed.).

Earlier this week, anti-doping lawyer Maria Cristina Rota said she will not shelve the particular case against the Liquigas rider. His case could be sent back to the justice system.

The homes of Basso and Paolini were part of the raids last fall, just prior to the running of the 2006 Worlds. Paolini went on to help long-time friend, Paolo Bettini, win the rainbow jersey for Italy. Last month, he finished third in the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Ethical code Article IX states, "Without prejudice to the right to terminate the contract for serious misconduct, not to enter any licence-holder for events who is subject to judicial proceedings or investigation for facts relating to sporting activity, or any act constituting a breach of the UCI antidoping regulations, or any other intentional criminal act: 1. as from the opening of the investigation or proceedings if the facts are admitted by the party in question, or if information from an official source available to the UCI Pro Team shows that the facts in question cannot be seriously contested; 2. in other cases, as from the date of referral by the investigating body or, where no such procedure applies, the date of the summons to the accused to appear before the trial judge for sentencing.

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