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Petacchi returns to CONI for hearing

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Lorenzo Bernucci (Lampre-Farnese Vini)

Lorenzo Bernucci (Lampre-Farnese Vini) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) answers question about his links to the police investigation in Italy

Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) answers question about his links to the police investigation in Italy (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) pulls on the green jersey

Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) pulls on the green jersey (Image credit: Sirotti)

Alessandro Petacchi made a return to the offices of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) yesterday as he attended a hearing in relation to the Padua doping investigation.

He and Lampre teammate Lorenzo Bernucci were summoned for questioning by Tammaro Maiello concerning the investigation by Italian police in Padua into doping; forces raided the Girobio stage race in June, while Petacchi's home was searched in April as part of an investigation by Mantua police. Nothing was found.

It's believed the accusations of doping stem from phone taps carried into the activities of Brescia-based doctor Filippo Manelli.

AP reports that Petacchi spent two hours in front of CONI's anti-doping prosecutor, the outcome of which the Italian sprinter said he was pleased. "I think I explained my position and I responded to all the questions they asked me," he explained.

Bernucci did not speak to members of the media following the conclusion of his questioning.

Petacchi has been accused of using Pfc (Perfluorocarbon) and human serum albumin. Pfc can be used to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood without raising haematocrit level.

Its use in the peloton was first rumoured in 1997 as an alternative to EPO, when the UCI introduced "health checks" preventing riders with haematocrit levels in excess of 50 per cent from competing. Human albumin can be used to reduce haematocrit levels.

Petacchi, who won the green jersey at this year's Tour de France, is hoping to start the Vuelta a España on Saturday but may be prevented from doing so if CONI issues a preliminary ban ahead of a trial before the committee's anti-doping court.

"I don't know," said the 36-year-old of his chances for a Vuelta start. "It's not up to me."

Both riders have a checkered past in relation to doping, with Petacchi serving a nine-month ban for Salbutamol use at the 2007 Giro d'Italia and Bernucci testing positive for Sibutramine, an appetite suppressant, the same year

In addition to his ban Petacchi was also stripped of his five stage wins in the 2007 Giro while Bernucci was fired from the T-Mobile team as a result of his illicit actions that season.