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Monday, July 16, 2007
UPDATE 1-Cycling-Mazzoleni leaves Astana, could still race


(Changes dateline, recasts with Mazzoleni clarification)

MILAN, July 16 - Italian cyclist Eddy Mazzoleni said on Monday he had left the Astana team but had not retired.

The team said in a statement earlier that the 34-year-old, who finished third in this year's Giro d'Italia, had retired with immediate effect because his involvement in a doping investigation.

However, Mazzoleni later said his departure from the team did not necessarily mean the end of his career.

"I have only decided to rescind my contract with Astana to protect the image of the team and my colleagues," he told reporters.

"Only after hearing the outcome of this situation will I take a decision. If it falls in my favour I will continue to ride."

Mazzoleni appeared before the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) last Friday to face questions about a doping probe being conducted by Italian police.

The long-running investigation focuses on doctor Carlo Santuccione, who is alleged to have supplied athletes with prohibited substances.

Mazzoleni was left out of the Tour de France because of his links to the investigation.

Giro winner Danilo Di Luca is waiting to hear if he will be punished by CONI after phone intercepts from 2004 implicated him in the investigation.

Former pole vault world champion Giuseppe Gibilisco has already announced his retirement having been found guilty of a doping violation as a result of the same inquiry. (Additional reporting by Julien Pretot in Tignes, France)