Luca Scinto has confirmed he has stepped down from his role of senior directeur sportif at the troubled Neri Sottoli team after a series of doping scandals have rocked the Professional Continental team.
The Tuscan was not listed as a directeur sportif on the UCI website, sparking questions by the Italian media. Scinto then confirmed his decision to step back when speaking to the Tuttobici website.
In the last 18 months the Neri Sottoli team has been rocked by three EPO doping cases, casting a long shadow over their bright fluorescent yellow colours. Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio were caught during the Giro d'Italia, while former Giro d'Italia stage winner Matteo Rabottini tested positive for EPO during the summer of 2014. The team was recently suspended by the MPCC after their members voted against the team.
Scinto is known for his enthusiasm and motivation but hinted that the doping scandals had taken its toll. He has always denied knowing that his team leaders were doping but at the time was happy to share in their success.
“In the last 18 months a lot of things were bothering me and the last straw was Rabottini's positive, followed by lots of comments in the media that ran like 'Why doesn't Scinto control his riders? He's not good enough.' I've gone from being considered a good DS to being considered an idiot. That's led me to losing my enthusiasm. I was always taking my negative feelings home. My wife Angela advised me to quit cycling but I can't do that. But I feel I need to take a step back.”
Scinto raced between 1994 and 2002, riding for MG Maglificio, ASICS and Mapei. He was often Michele Bartoli's personal domestique and was part of the Italian team that helped Mario Cipollini win the Worlds road race title in Zolder in 2002. He became a directeur sportif in the under-23 ranks and helped the team grow alongside team manager Angelo Citracca.
The UCI awarded Neri Sottoli a Professional Continental licence for 2015 under the condition that they “undergoes stringent controls by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation and the UCI to verify the team’s implementation of their announced anti-doping measures.” Under Scinto's guidance the team won the Coppa Italia season-long competition, ensuring an wild card invitation to the 2015 Giro d'Italia, but RCS Sport is under pressure to revoke the invitation due to the doping scandals.
Scinto hinted he is tired of being caught up in the doping investigations.
“I told the riders I'm still part of the team but that I don't know in what role. I don't know how long it'll take, perhaps three months, perhaps six months, a year or even longer....” he said.
“I just need to switch off for a bit. I don't want to have to spend most of my time answering questions to the Anti-Doping investigators instead of with the riders. I'll stay in cycling and work with the Junior team named after (close friend) Franco Ballerini. That's where I'm going to restart. Let's see where that road leads.”