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Vini Zabù's Giro d'Italia place in question as Matteo De Bonis tests positive for EPO

Matteo De Bonis and Vini Zabu' line up for the 2020 Brussels Cycling Classic
Matteo De Bonis and Vini Zabu' line up for the 2020 Brussels Cycling Classic (Image credit: Getty)

Vini Zabù’s place in the Giro d’Italia is in question after Matteo De Bonis returned a positive test for EPO in an out-of-competition control. 

If the Italian’s adverse analytical finding is confirmed by analysis of his B-Sample, Vini Zabù risk a suspension of 15-45 days for a second doping case in the same twelve-month period after Matteo Spreafico tested positive for ostarine on last year’s Giro. The Giro d'Italia starts in Turin on May 8.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, the UCI announced that De Bonis has been provisionally suspended after returning an adverse analytical finding for EPO in an out-of-competition test on February 16.

The 25-year-old, who turned professional last year, returned the sample in a targeted doping control carried out by the International Testing Agency (ITA) which took over testing in cycling from the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) this year.

De Bonis, who hasn't raced in 2021, has the right to request analysis of his B-sample. If that were to come back positive, he would likely face a four-year ban from the sport, while Vini Zabù would also face a suspension that could see them miss out on the Giro d'Italia, for which they have a wildcard invitation.

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 twelve-month period.

Vini Zabù would fall foul of this rule if De Bonis' sanction is confirmed by a positive B-sample. 

Matteo Spreafico left last year’s Giro early after testing positive for the Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM) Enobosarm, otherwise known as ostarine, on stages 12 and 13. The 27-year-old was subsequently fired by Vini Zabù and he remains provisionally suspended by the UCI.

"The UCI will shortly refer the matter to the Disciplinary Commission which will render a decision in due course," read a statement issued by the UCI.

"At this stage of the procedure, the UCI will not comment any further on any of these matters."

Vini Zabù were one of three teams given wildcard invitations to the 2021 Giro, along with Eolo-Kometa and Bardiani-CSF, but their presence at the race – which gets underway in 38 days’ time – could be prevented by a suspension.

The most recent team to run the risk of such a suspension was Spanish ProTeam Burgos-BH, who pulled out of races at the start of the 2019 season to hold an anti-doping educational training camp after three of their riders, Ibai Salas, Igor Meriño and David Belda, tested positive the previous year.

In 2020, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA avoided a team ban after the positives of Domingos Gonçalves and Jaime Rosón, while Katusha also avoided a ban in 2016 when Eduard Vorganov and Luca Paolini returned positive tests.

The Spreafico and De Bonis positive are far from the first doping cases to hit the team since its inception in 2009, with Danilo Di Luca, Mauro Santambrogio, Matteo Rabottini, Ramon Carretero, and Samuel Conti all testing positive over the years.