The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) has released a statement condemning the Vini Zabù team following Matteo De Bonis' adverse analytical finding for EPO earlier this week, their second positive test in the space of 12 months.
De Bonis is facing a four-year ban from competition should his B-sample come back positive. Meanwhile the Italian squad is also in trouble, with a suspension from competition of between 15 and 45 days likely, in line with the UCI rule concerning multiple positive tests.
The team were subject to 25 separate raids by the branches of the NAS (health and safety) unit of the Carabinieri, with General Manager Angelo Citracca, Senior Directeur Sportif Luca Scinto, and De Bonis all under investigation.
De Bonis' positive test is the ninth doping case the team has been involved with since its inception as ISD in 2009, following on from Alessandro Colo, Patrick Sinkewitz, Danilo Di Luca, Mauro Santambrogio, Matteo Rabottini, Ramon Carretero, Samuele Conti, and Matteo Spreafico.
The MPCC said in a statement that the latest positive they condemn has "the serious damage this affair causes to the image of cycling".
"Whatever the amount of resources allocated to the fight against doping, some riders will still choose to cheat," read the statement. "Though, this simple observation is not a thread for the credibility of cycling. However, when these events occur multiple times, year after year, within the same team, and when the institutions fail to break the cycle, it represents a terrible blow to the credibility of cycling."
Vini Zabù – then known as Neri Sottoli – was briefly a member of the MPCC in 2014 before leaving at the end of the season following Rabottini's positive test for EPO.
"MPCC recalls that team Vini Zabù belonged to the movement for a short time in 2014," continued the statement. "Shortly after, despite two doping cases in less than a year, the team decided it was not relevant to commit to the rules of the movement, the same ones that all our members abide by. We immediately suspended the team and decided to exclude it from the movement during the General Assembly of October 2015."
The MPCC also noted that Vini Zabù could miss the Giro d'Italia as a result of a regulation they helped put into place – the 15 to 45-day suspension rule. The organisation called on Giro organisers RCS to take more responsibility in the fight against doping after Vini Zabù were awarded a wildcard entry to the 2021 edition despite Spreafico's positive test for ostarine at last year's race.
"If UCI deems so, there is a genuine risk for Vini-Zabù to miss out on the Giro, a race for which it received a wild card again. Since 2009, the team is managed by the same people, Angelo Citracca and Luca Scinto. They were already in charge when each of the nine proceedings were opened against the Italian team. Yet, some organisers still trust them.
"This new case is another element to support our statement given during our General Assembly of last March 2nd; our movement was surprised that the Giro d’Italia awarded a Wild Card to a team that suffered a positive test during the last edition. Out of the nine cases involving Vini-Zabù riders, four of them were directly related to the Giro, which seems to not hold any grudge as it still granted 11 Wild Cards to the team in the last 13 years.
"Our movement deeply regrets that RCS group still does not seem important to react nor give any explanation regarding its choices. As they face yet another doping proceeding, we hope that RCS will take responsibility for the future, even though the Italian organisers already held all the cards to do so after the Giro 2020."
The MPCC concluded their statement by calling for more teams and riders to join. Currently, the organisation boasts 903 members, including 10 WorldTour teams, 16 ProTeams, six women's teams, 10 race organisers, and 346 current riders.
Citracca did not respond to Cyclingnews' requests for comment when contacted on Thursday afternoon.
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