Vini Zabù will not take part in the Giro d’Italia following the positive test for EPO in an out-of-competition control by Matteo De Bonis, with the Italian team saying that the move was an act of consideration for the sport.
Two weeks ago the Italian ProTeam, which had a wildcard entry for the Grand Tour, self-suspended itself from racing to carry out an internal investigation after De Bonis' positive test.
"The team and the main sponsor Vini Zabù have decided to give an important message to the world of cycling, to teach those athletes who still think they can take shortcuts by cheating," read a press release issued by the team.
"The team has agreed with its main sponsor not to participate in the Giro di Italia, despite having demonstrated to the competent bodies that it has taken the most diligent measures to combat doping.
"Our decision not to participate in the Giro di Italia is intended to underline the damage that the unlawful conduct of an individual can cause to the entire team, with devastating effects on those who, instead, put their best efforts into enabling cyclists to compete."
Following news of De Bonis' positive test, which broke on March 30, the NAS (health and safety) unit of the Carabinieri carried out raids on general manager Angelo Citracca, senior directeur sportif Luca Scinto, and De Bonis, along with 22 other members of the team, targeting the team's headquarters, warehouse, and workshop.
Citracca later confirmed to Cyclingnews that nothing illicit was found during the searches and that the team and riders were cooperating fully with Italian police and the UCI. De Bonis, his father, and lawyer met with the team shortly afterwards, with the team handing his statement over to the authorities.
"The main sponsor and the team have made De Bonis aware of the need to collaborate actively with the investigating bodies so that this regrettable episode can become an effective tool in the fight to eradicate organisations trading in prohibited substances," continued Vini Zabù's statement. "The choice of whether or not to take legal action to compensate for the enormous damage suffered will depend on whether De Bonis actually cooperates with the investigating bodies.
"Those who decide to violate the principles of ethical sport by taking banned substances damage not only themselves, but the entire appearance of the team (colleagues, staff members, managers and sponsors).
"We would like to thank RCS Sport for the consideration they have shown us by inviting us to the Giro d'Italia and for their positive assessment of our team project. Our renunciation of the most popular race among Italian cyclists is a gesture of love for cycling.
"The sponsor, sharing the institutional principles of the Team, guarantees the implementation of the sponsorship contracts throughout the current year, so that it is the sport that wins."
The renunciation of Vini Zabù's wildcard leaves Eolo-Kometa, Alpecin-Fenix, and Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè as the remaining wildcard entries to the race. RCS Sport have yet to comment on which team, if any, will take the free wildcard spot.
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