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Matteo Spreafico out of Giro d'Italia after doping positive

MONSELICE ITALY OCTOBER 16 Start Matteo Spreafico of Italy and Team Vini Zabu KTM Cervia Village Trofeo Senza Fine Trophy during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 13 a 192km stage from from Cervia to Monselice girodiitalia Giro on October 16 2020 in Monselice Italy Photo by Stuart FranklinGetty Images
Matteo Spreafico (Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM) at the start of stage 13 in Cervia (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The UCI have announced that Matteo Spreafico (Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM) has returned two Adverse Analytical Findings (AAFs) at the Giro d'Italia.

Two samples collected on October 15 and 16 (stage 12 in Cesenatico and stage 13 to Monselice) showed the Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM) Enobosarm, otherwise known as ostarine.  

The Italian 27-year-old "has the right to request and attend" analyses of B samples, a UCI statement read. Spreafico has been provisionally suspended and has left the race, where he lay 127th overall after Thursday's stage 18.

Enobosarm is an investigational SARM developed to treat osteoporosis and muscle wasting conditions. SARMs, including Enobosarm, have been on WADA's Prohibited List since 2008 under the 'other anabolic agents' section. 

The substance is not approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration, who warn that usage can cause serious side effects, ranging from heart attacks to liver damage. 

Weight loss and building muscle are among the claimed effects of Enobosarm, which produces effects similar to anabolic steroids. Former riders Nikita Novikov and Kayle Leogrande are among athletes to have tested positive for ostarine in the past.

The UCI stated: "At this stage of the procedure, the UCI will not comment any further on this matter", while Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM told Cyclingnews that the team "has nothing to say at this moment."

Spreafico, who won the Vuelta a Venezuela in 2018, only joined the team from Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec in August and was making his Giro debut after four years as a professional.

His case is the first positive test to come to light at the Giro since Davide Apollonio for EPO at the 2015 race, though that news only came to light after the race had ended. Last year, Bahrain-Merida rider Kristijan Koren was pulled from the race after his involvement in the Operation Aderlass scandal came to light. He was later handed a two-year ban.

At this year's Giro, Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM have been the most visible of the three wildcard squads, making the break on 12 of the 18 stages, finishing fifth and second on stages 2 and 3, and holding the blue climber's jersey for two stages before Giovanni Visconti was forced out of the race with patellar tendonitis.

The team has existed under various name sponsors since 2009, and has suffered several doping cases over the years, including Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio (EPO at the 2013 Giro), Matteo Rabottini (EPO in 2014), Ramon Carretero (EPO in 2015) and Samuel Conti (GHRP-2 in 2016).

In other anti-doping news, the UCI's updated provisional suspensions list today included Edgar Pinto of the Portuguese Continental team W52-Porto. The 35-year-old has been suspended for 'Use of Prohibited Methods and/or Prohibited Substances', much like his ex-teammate Raúl Alarcón – a two-time Volta a Portugal winner – in late 2019.