Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Giro: Di Luca Positive, “I’m not so stupid”

MILAN, 22 July 2009 - Danilo Di Luca, second in the Centenary Giro d'Italia, has tested positive for Cera (third generation EPO) in two samples taken during the race. The tests were performed on 20 May in Moncalieri (Turin) at 7.50am and on the 28th in Silvi Marina (Pescara) at 7.24am. The analyses were carried out in the Parisian laboratory of Chatenai-Malabry by the UCI, which has already suspended the rider. The cyclist, winner of the 2007 Giro, commented on the news tersely: “It the counter analyses also confirm the positive result, I’ll stop racing.” Di Luca won two stages of the Giro: the fourth which arrived in San Martino di Castrozza and the tenth which arrived in Pinerolo where he even temporarily grabbed the leaders' jeresy from Denis Menchov.

“But would I have been so stupid as to take Cera a year after Riccò, Sella, and Rebellin had been found out at the Giro d’Italia?” This was Danilo Di Luca’s response on the telephone to his suspension for doping by the UCI, as he travelled back to Pescara. A UCI doctor gave the news of his positive result this morning on the telephone to his wife Valentina, in Pescara. Valentina Giuliani, daughter of former racer Stefano, then informed her husband at the end of a stage in the Brixia Tour. “It’s a total shock,” Di Luca said. “It’s really strange, so much so that I don’t even know how I am at the moment.” “For me now it's important to do the counter analyses in another laboratory and not the Parisian one, because I have been told that they use strange methods. Two track and field athletes, who tested positively, went to another laboratory that reversed their test result.” “How do I feel? How should I feel? I know what awaits me,” concluded Di Luca, winner of the 2007 Giro d’Italia and second this year, behind the Russian Denis Menchov. “But above all I am aware that, if it is all confirmed, it will be the end. Now I have to see what to do. I can’t compete until 3 August, the day when the counter analyses are performed.”

The targeted tests have produced results that have been compared with the information on the rider’s biological passport. Di Luca’s provisional suspension will remain in force until the Italian Federation (FCI) decides whether the athlete has violated article 21 of the UCI anti-doping regulations. Di Luca, emphasised the International Cycling Union, “has the right to ask to wait for the results of the counter analyses on both samples.” If Di Luca were to be disqualified the Spaniard Carlos Sastre would win a podium position while the stage victories would go respectively to Garzelli and Pellizotti. Di Luca has previously been suspended for 3 months for frequenting the controversial doctor Carlo Santuccione. On 27 February 2008 CONI’s anti-doping prosecutor had demanded that he be suspended for two years, following the discovery of anomalous hormone levels by the anti-doping test performed on 30 May 2007 after the 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia. On 16 April 2008, CONI’s appeal court judge acquitted the racer.

Angelo Zomegnan, the director of the Giro was adamant: “The barrage of suspicions in recent weeks has been dramatically confirmed with the non-negative result of the racer Danilo Di Luca at two points during the Centenary Giro d’Italia. We trust in the speed of the inquiries that the sports law and normal legal authorities certainly need to complete to come to a final and incontrovertible conclusion to the case. Once more the Giro d’Italia, which has always striven to be honest and that in 2009 invested more in hunting out doping than it ever did in its first hundred years, has been the victim of negative events, which oblige the organisers to evaluate appropriate actions to protect both the substance and image of the event.”

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