Nicola Ruffoni has suggested that a prostate problem he suffered in late March and April could have sparked his adverse analytical finding for a growth hormone releasing peptide that emerged on the eve of the first stage of the Giro d'Italia.
The Bardiani CSF sprinter took part in the official pre-race team presentation on Thursday evening despite he and the Italian team knowing he had failed an out-of-competition control on April 25. As the news broke, he stayed hidden in the team hotel and then quickly left Sardinia.
Ruffoni's Bardiani CSF teammate Stefano Pirazzi tested positive for the same product, also in an out of competition test, meaning the Italian team could face a ban from competition of between 15 and 45 days. The UCI's Disciplinary Commission is expected to pass judgement after the B sample is analysed the positive tests confirmed.
As the Bardiani CSF team fought to stay in the Giro d'Italia on Friday, Ruffoni and Pirazzi stayed silent. Ruffoni eventually denied any wrong doing in personal post on Facebook.
"After testing positive in a test done on April 25 and after the shock of the first few hours, I want to make clear a few things: I have never, and I mean never, used any banned substances during my professional career," Ruffoni wrote.
"I've changed my diet in recent months and so has my lifestyle. I'm trying to a logical explanation for what has happened to me, studying everything I've done in the last few months.
"The thing that could be linked to the presence of growth hormone in my urine could be due to the serious prostate infection that I suffered between March 20 and April 20 and that forced me to stop my riding and forced me to take antibiotics. I'm going to contact an Endocrinologist to find out more."
26-year-old Ruffoni won two stages at the recent at the Tour of Croatia but knows his career could now be over. However he promised to fight for his credibility, even if few people, including at Bardiani CSF, believe in his innocence.
"I know that my career at risk and I'm also aware that I haven't tried to cheat," he claimed. "I'll await the testing of the B sample and try to defend myself my credibility to the very end."