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Petacchi claims Hondo’s blood doping accusations were poorly translated

Danilo Hondo and Alessandro Petacchi at Lampre in 2010
Danilo Hondo and Alessandro Petacchi at Lampre in 2010 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Alessandro Petacchi has denied that former Lampre teammate Danilo Hondo told a court in Munich that they underwent blood doping together, insisting that the German’s testimony was not translated correctly with the aim of throwing mud at him and at all the world of cycling. 

Hondo was questioned in court in Munich on Tuesday as part of the trial of German doctor Mark Schmidt who is accused of blood doping a number of cross country skiers and cyclists. The alleged blood doping ring was discovered during the Aderlass investigation.

According to the DPA news agency, Hondo said: "If you have a relationship so close that it was almost fraternal, then you have no problem being doped together in one room." Accounts of Hondo's testimony were published in several German newspapers. 

Hondo served as Petacchi’s lead-out man at Lampre from 2010 to 2012. He told the court that he had been approached by Schmidt in the winter of 2011, and he paid Mark Schmidt approximately €25,000 for his services, using the code name of James Bond similar to those employed to label blood bags in Operación Puerto.

Hondo confessed to blood doping last year in an interview with ARD and he was immediately fired from his role as coach of the Swiss national team. Petacchi, who retired in 2015, has denied wrongdoing, but he was handed a two-year ban by the UCI last year.

“I’m really disappointed about what has been reported after Danilo Hondo’s testimony in the trial. His testimony was reported incorrectly to provoke unfair headlines,” Petacchi said in a message sent to Italian media. 

“Knowing my friend and former teammate, I had no problem to call him to ask for an explanation. Just two minutes were needed to clear things up and Danilo sent me via his lawyer, the real testimony under oath from Munich, which has also been publicly published and so can be checked.   

“In Hondo’s testimony there’s no section where he attributes that I underwent illegal blood treatment in his presence or alone.  

"Hondo’s testimony was not translated and reported correctly and has been given a different meaning to damage me and to throw mud on the world of cycling." 

Petacchi’s two-year ban forced him to suspend his work as a television commentator in Italy. He has since kept a low profile, focusing on supporting his wife as she fights cancer. 

“I’m really sorry that this has happened and has damaged me after all I’ve given to the sport. But that’s okay, I’ve got more serious problems to worry about that concern the health of my family,” he said in the message, avoiding talking about his own case.

“I’ve got nothing else to say or to add to the matter that hasn’t already been clarified with the UCI two years ago and so is part of the past.”