Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) confirmed that he is still waiting to hear if the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) intends to refer or to drop an investigation into whether he used doping products.
“I’ve already clarified everything,” Petacchi told Gazzetta dello Sport. “In spite of this, it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a referral, but they would have to explain to me on what basis.”
Petacchi last met with CONI in August after it emerged that he had been placed under investigation by Italian police as part of a widespread doping probe led by Padova-based magistrate Benedetto Roberti. He has been accused of using PFC and human serum albumin. Petacchi already served a suspension for a positive test for salbutamol in 2007, and at 37 years of age, further sanctions would effectively end his career.
Petacchi’s friend and teammate Lorenzo Bernucci was suspended for six years in December after doping products were found in his home in April. Petacchi’s home was also searched at the time but no products were found.
“Bernucci is still a friend,” Petacchi said. “If he has made mistakes, he will pay for them.”
Meanwhile, as the 2011 season approaches, Petacchi is firmly focused on matters out on the road. The Italian is set to ride all three major tours this year as he builds towards his main objective, the world championships on a sprinter-friendly course in Copenhagen.
“The Giro is tough, but [Lampre manager Beppe] Saronni told me that Hondo and I could help Scarponi in the team time trial,” he said. “Then the Tour and the Vuelta [to prepare] for the Worlds.”
Petacchi led the Italian team at the 2005 world championships in Madrid but he failed to make the final selection in a race won by Tom Boonen. His disappointing performance and the perceived lack of support given to his teammate Paolo Bettini were a source of considerable debate in the aftermath of that race, but Petacchi insists that he never had any problems with the current Italian manager.
“No, it was an exaggerated story,” Petacchi said. “I said with two laps to go that I didn’t have the legs. If somebody ‘chose’ to stay close to me, the blame can’t be heaped on me.”
Petacchi also spent some time training in California during the winter, where he crossed paths with fellow sprinter Mark Cavendish. “I rode with Cavendish,” Petacchi said. “He will again be ‘the’ rival, even if he needs to be stay calmer and not dwell on rivalries. He treats every race like a war and he’s wrong.”
The sprint duo will have their first major rendezvous of the season at Milan-San Remo and Petacchi is determined to make amends for his showing last year. He finished third behind Oscar Freire but maintains that his placing was not indicative of his form.
“Last year I made a mistake,” he said. “Not in the sprint, but on the Poggio, when I did too much. I get there again with the same legs, I won’t make the same mistake and then in the sprint we’ll talk.”
Petacchi will start his season at the Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria before moving on to ride the Tours of Qatar and Oman.
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.