The UCI has banned Vini Zabù for 30 days after two doping cases in the Tuscan-based ProTeam during a period of 12 months.
The ban has been backdated to April 7, when Vini Zabù withdrew from competition, and will end on May 6, two days before the start of this year’s Giro d’Italia in Turin.
Last week, the team withdrew from the Giro d’Italia but were still banned from competing for 30 days by the UCI. Giro d'Italia race organiser RCS Sport awarded the wild card invitation to the Androni Giocattoli team.
Under section 11.3.1 of the UCI's anti-doping regulations, teams face a suspension from competition of between 15 and 45 days if two riders or members of staff commit an anti-doping rule violation – such as a positive test for a non-specified substance or non-substance of abuse, or an adverse Biological Passport result – within the same 12-month period.
25-year-old Matteo De Bonis tested positive for EPO in a targeted doping control carried out by the International Testing Agency (ITA) at the team’s pre-season training camp. Matteo Spreafico left last year’s Giro d’Italia early after testing positive for the Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM) Enobosarm, otherwise known as ostarine, on stages 12 and 13.
Doping is a crime in Italy and police carried out a series of searches on the Vini Zabù team and riders’ homes. Vini Zabù general manager Angelo Citracca, senior directeur sportif Luca Scinto, and De Bonis have all reportedly been placed under investigation. Citracca told Cyclingnews that nothing illegal was found during the searches and the team is collaborating fully with the Italian police and the UCI.
Citracca insisted the team was not involved in De Bonis’ positive test for EPO and that the rider took full responsibility for his actions.
"The rider involved has admitted doing certain things with other people and he’s said he has not passed it on (to other riders)," Citracca told Cyclingnews.
Vini Zabù said they would not ride the Giro d’Italia "to give an important message to the world of cycling, to teach those athletes who still think they can take shortcuts by cheating".
The UCI said it would not make any further comment because "the results management process is still ongoing for the two riders".
Both face bans from competition of up to four years.
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