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Petacchi calls on experts for defence

Alessandro Petacchi is working with two medical experts in his defence to his 'non-negative' doping control following stage 11 of the 2007 Giro d'Italia. The 34 year-old Milram sprinter was cleared by the Italian cycling federation (FCI); however, head CONI prosecutor Ettore Torri appealed the case to to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and it will be heard March 12.

Australian Doctor Ken Fitch and Canadian physiologist Ben Sporer were contacted by the Italian via e-mail according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Petacchi has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to take asthma drug Salbutamol (Ventolin) in competition, but was found to have 1320 ng/ml of the the in his urine – more than the 1000 ng/ml acceptable limit.

The hearing date in Lausanne, Switzerland, is the same date as the start of Tirreno-Adriatico, March 12 to 18. The stage race is a key warm-up event to Milano-Sanremo, March 22, which Petacchi won in 2005. The rider from La Spezia is not obliged to be present, but the defence has asked for a postponement nonetheless. In addition, the two new experts are not able to make the current March 12 date due to previous engagements.

An eventual postponement is likely.

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