Giro d’Italia director Angelo Zomegnan has called on race organisers to take a more severe stand against riders whose doping past might damage their races. With the start of this year's Giro d'Italia just two weeks away, he has revealed that he has been in regular contact with anti-doping investigators in Italy, as the Mantova, Padova and other cases progress.
“Not all organisers adopt the same rigour that has been put in action by RCS,” Zomegnan told the Tuttosport newspaper. “If we want to get away from a sometimes embarrassing situation, we must not mix the sacred with the profane. Some organisers are out of control and don’t maintain a constant line of behaviour. I don’t mean to replace the institutions, but I want to guarantee that the races organised by us are true because they are clean.”
Zomegnan admitted, however, that even his best intentions might not be enough to ensure a scandal-free Giro d’Italia this year, as Italian police continue an investigation believed to be centred on the activities of the controversial Dr. Michele Ferrari. A number of riders have been searched recently.
“The mother of an imbecile is always pregnant, so I’m certainly not calm, but if nothing else I’m at peace with my conscience,” Zomegnan explained, using a colouful Italian turn of phrase. “I'm in constant contact with the investigators.”
Zomegnan also reflected on his decision to exclude Riccardo Riccò from the 2010 Giro even though he had returned from his suspension for CERA use. Riccò suffered kidney problems in February of this year, allegedly as a result of a blood transfusion, and Zomegnan believes that his hard-line stance with Riccò has been vindicated by recent events.
“I took the risk of introducing an additional quarantine beyond the end of a period of suspension for certain at-risk subjects…” Zomegnan said. “Many in the media criticised me for this and took aim at me. With hindsight, I really don’t think I exaggerated.”
However, Zomegnan defended the presence of Alberto Contador at this year’s Giro d'Italia, in spite of testing positive for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France. The Spaniard was cleared by his national federation, but the UCI has appealed the verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the case will be heard in May. Zomegnan was at pains to point out that, as yet, Contador has not been found guilty.
“I want to be very clear: at this point, the only judgement passed on the Spaniard ruled that he innocent,” Zomegnan said, hiding behind the Spanish Cycling Federation' verdict.
“My interest is in Contador coming to the Giro clean and riding it without subterfuge. If he then comes to be judged guilty for the 2010 Tour, he will lose that race. It is not certain what he will be able to do at the Giro.”
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Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.