Wednesday, April 16, 2008
UPDATE 2-Cycling-Di Luca cleared of doping
(adds details, quotes)
ROME, April 16 - Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di
Luca has been cleared of doping because of insufficient
evidence, an Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) commission said on
The committee's anti-doping prosecutor had wanted Di Luca to
be banned for two years for showing abnormal hormone levels in a
dope test carried out after the 17th stage of last May's race.
A CONI spokesman said there was "not a sufficient degree of
probability" to rule against the LPR rider, who did not attend
the hearing and now looks set to defend his title when the 2008
Giro starts on May 10.
A first hearing was held on April 1 following almost a year
of wrangles because of complex scientific data. The commission
decided it could not make a ruling and asked three independent
experts to go away and form an opinion.
Their report back to the commission on Wednesday showed
there was still no clarity over why the hormone levels were
"The opinion of the experts is conflicting. It appears
difficult to establish whether the athlete's urine has been
tampered with," Di Luca's lawyer Federico Cecconi told the
At the first hearing, the defence said the abnormal hormone
level was because the 32-year-old had drunk water before the
test. They said tests had been carried out with volunteers who
exhibited similar hormone levels having drunk water.
The anti-doping prosecutor maintained the abnormal reading
was because of an intravenous drip possibly containing plasma.
"Blood and urine cannot be tampered with," prosecuting
lawyer Fabio Filocamo told the hearing before the not guilty
verdict. "Those who do it are committing an illegal
act...therefore he must be punished."
Di Luca was given a three-month ban by CONI in October for a
separate doping matter. He was sanctioned for his involvement
with Carlo Santuccione, a doctor accused of supplying doping
products to athletes.
The rider appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport
(CAS) against the ruling and is awaiting a decision.
Di Luca was forced to miss September's world championships
in Stuttgart because of the two doping probes and was thrown out
of the Pro Tour in October while leading the competition.
Cycling has been rocked by a series of doping scandals in
recent years and Italy has been hit especially hard. The 2006
Giro winner Ivan Basso is serving a ban for attempted doping.
CONI's anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri has been on a
crusade to clean up the sport but Di Luca being cleared follows
the Italian Cycling Federation's decision to reject Torri's bid
to ban Alessandro Petacchi for a year.
Petacchi tested positive for salbutamol during the last Giro
but argued he used the substance in his asthma inhaler, for
which he had a medical certificate, and that any overuse was
The case is now with the CAS, where Torri may also decide to
appeal against the Di Luca decision.
(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio, writing by Mark Meadows in
Milan, editing by Rex Gowar)