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Saturday 10, Aug 2013

  Cunego Among 28 Charged With Doping

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Cunego Among 28 Charged With Doping

Former Tour of Italy winner @Damiano Cunego was among 28 people connected to the Lampre team who were charged with doping-related offenses.

The biggest wins of the Italian professional road racing cyclist who rides for the Italian UCI ProTeam Lampre-Merida included the 2004 Giro d’Italia, the 2008 Amstel Gold Race, and the Giro di Lombardia in 2004, 2007, 2008. Considered the best Italian cyclist for classics after the retirement of Paolo Bettini, Cunego finished second in the UCI Road World Championships in 2008 and in the 2008 UCI ProTour.

       In his first season as a professional with Saeco in 2002, Cunego won the Giro d’Oro and the Giro Medio Brenta and won the seventh stage and the overall classification of Tour of Qinghai Lake in 2003. During 2004, Cunego finished the season number one in the UCI Road World Cup, the youngest rider to achieve it, at the age of 23. He won the Klasika Primavera and the Amstel Gold Race in 2008 with two powerful sprints against Alejandro Valverde and Fränk Schleck that propelled him to the top of the UCI Pro Tour rankings and finish second in the 2008 UCI Road World Championships. Cunego ended the 2008 season with the victory of the Japan Cup, confirming himself as one of the best Classics Specialist in the world.

In addition to Cunego, former world champion Alessandro Ballan and a host of riders, officials, and doctors have been called in by the Padua prosecutor’s office to explain themselves. The disgraced former Tour winner Michael Rasmussen is also listed along with the likes of Marzio Bruseghin and Mauro Santambrogio. Summons have been issued to Cunego and Bassan, sporting directors Giuseppe Saronni and Guido Bontempi, and team chemist Vittorio Nigrelli, suspected of being the “brains” behind the doping operation.

Prosecutor Antonino Condorelli remarked that the 28 in collaboration with each other are accused of having bought, administered or otherwise favored the use of doping products with the aim of altering the sporting performances of Lampre athletes. The story first broke two years ago, following a three-year investigation by Condorelli.

The team is accused of having given their riders the banned blood-booster EPO, anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and testosterone. The case will be heard on December 10 by Judge Gilberto Casari.

A Lampare statement reads: The charges are technically neutral in relation to any affirmation of responsibility and we will be able to demonstrate, in the appropriate domain, how wrong these accusations are. From 2008 to 2011, the team was subject to a doping investigation following revelations made by former cyclist Emanuele Sella after he had tested positive for EPO derivative CERA, although nothing came of the investigation. In a statement, Lampre-Merida said: The team reaffirms trust in the athletes and the team members involved in this case, and is confident that during the hearing it will be possible to demonstrate their non-involvement in the subject of the charges. It added that the certainty of being able to demonstrate the non-involvement brings about the question of who, once that issue has been clarified, will take responsibility for the burdens and offence placed upon the team.

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Monday 22, Apr 2013

  CONI Given Access To Mantua Files

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CONI Given Access To Mantua Files

Just a few days before the 2013 Giro d’Italia begins in Naples, the Italian national Olympic committee (CONI), is to be given access to evidence gathered by prosecutors as part of the Mantua investigation into doping in cycling. The doping scandal involves big names like Alessandro Ballan and Damiano Cunego and the date for that hearing was fixed by preliminary hearing judge Gilberto Casari, who also permitted CONI to be joined to the case as a civil party.

The investigation is focused on a pharmacist based in Mariana Mantovana, Guido Nigrelli, and his relationship with the Lampre team, with a number of past and present riders and staff among those implicated. The judge’s authorization came after the session was suspended for 40 minutes while the judge considered lawyers’ requests. This incident is different from another probe that is being conducted from Padua and focuses on banned doctor Michele Ferrari and his alleged relationship with riders from a variety of teams.

Former world champion Ballan, who is currently recovering from a bad crash while training for the current season, and 2004 Giro d’Italia winner, Cunego, are among the 31 people said to be potentially facing charges as a result of the Mantua investigation. The list of suspects includes former Lampre team manager and Giro d’Italia and world championship winner Giuseppe Saronni, Danish ex-pro Michael Rasmussen who confessed to doping earlier this year, and current riders including Astana’s Simone Ponzi, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia’s Mauro Santambrogio, and Daniele Pietropolli, who is now in his fourth season with Lampre.

Alessandro Ballan, the Italian professional road bicycle racer for UCI World Tour team BMC Racing Team, is best known for winning the World Road Race Championships in 2008 and suffered a severe training crash during a descent as he was riding with his team in Spain. Ballan fractured his left femur, broke a rib and ruptured his spleen, which had to be removed and spent a little more than a week in intensive care. Damiano Cunego, the Italian professional road racing cyclist who rides for the Italian UCI ProTeam Lampre-Merida and his biggest wins are the 2004 Giro d’Italia, the 2008 Amstel Gold Race, and the Giro di Lombardia in 2004, 2007, 2008. Cunego finished second in the UCI Road World Championships in 2008 and in the 2008 UCI ProTour. He, in 2008, won the Klasika Primavera and the Amstel Gold Race, with two powerful sprints against Alejandro Valverde and Fränk Schleck, with victory in the latter propelling him to the top of the UCI Pro Tour rankings.

The preliminary hearing into the case will consider whether formal charges should be brought against those who have been implicated or not, as well as whether evidence obtained by phone-taps should be admissible. It is not the first time that the Italian Olympic Committee has been involved in the investigation. Its anti-doping prosecutor, Ettore Torri, summoned some of the riders implicated, including Ballan, for interviews at his offices in Rome two years ago although he decided to take no further action pending a criminal trial taking place.

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Saturday 08, Sep 2012

  Ivan Basso To Receive Tour De France 2005 Title

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Ivan Basso To Receive Tour De France 2005 Title

Ivan Basso, who recently returned to cycling after a two-year doping ban, could soon be receiving the Tour de France 2005 title after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USDA) stripped seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of “all competitive results from Aug. 1, 1998 through the present.”

This would also mean that Alex Zulle (convicted of using the blood-boosting EPO drug) would be receiving the 1999 jersey, Jan Ullrich would receive the 2000, 2001 and 2003 jerseys, and Joseba Beloki would get the 2002 jersey. Interestingly, both Ullrich and Beloki were involved in a massive drug investigation in Spain.

This means that the USADA is keen to punish a player who “may be” doping (Lance Armstrong) even though the agency has no drug testing proof against him and the anti-doping agency would take all his titles and distribute them to cyclists who were also accused of doping or unfair sport practices. This is surely a personal vendetta by the USADA against Lance in which it can punish one who “may have” doped, and reward one who doped.

Ivan Basso would surely be thanking his stars for claiming the 2005 title. Born on 26 November 1977 in Gallarate, Province of Varese, the Italian professional road bicycle racer is presently racing with UCI ProTeam Liquigas-Cannondale. Considered to be among the best mountain riders in the professional field in the 21st century and one of the strongest stage race riders, Basso is a double winner of the Giro d’Italia, having won the 2006 edition and the 2010 edition of the Italian Grand Tour whilst riding for Team CSC in 2006 and for Liquigas in 2010.

In the 2002 edition of the Tour de France, he won the white jersey (the award presented to the best-placed rider in the general classification under the age of 25) and finished 11th overall. In the 2004 Tour de France, Ivan Basso looked impressive and won stage 12 ahead of eventual winner Lance Armstrong, his first victory since 2001.

The cyclist was suspended by his Discovery Channel team in 2007 because of a reopened Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) investigation into involvement of the Italian cyclist with the Operation Puerto blood doping ring. According to allegations, the Italian cyclist was allegedly given blood doping by the Dr. Fuentes in a Spanish clinic. Basso was acquitted on 27 October 2006 for any involvement in the Operation Puerto events by the committee because of insufficient evidence.

Basso announced on 9 November 2006 that he was joining Lance Armstrong’s former team, Discovery Channel. The team however suspended him in April 2007 and announced that Basso would be released from his contract. The Italian cyclist was suspended for two years after he admitted to contacting Dr. Fuentes’ clinic with the intention to engage in blood doping. The suspension ended on October 24, 2008 and Basso made a return to racing two days later in the Japan Cup, where he placed a close third behind Damiano Cunego and Giovanni Visconti.

Ivan Basso would now receive the 2005 Tour de France title after the US Anti-doping Agency banned Lance Armstrong for life and stripped him of all his seven Tour titles.

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