CONI appeal Petacchi case; Zabel back to T-Mobile?

Italian Olympic Committee take Petacchi case to CAS, while Erik Zabel hasn't ruled out return to T-Mobile.

CONI appeal CAS over Petacchi's doping case

Anti-doping officials from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over Alessandro Petacchi's positive test for salbutamol during the Tour of Italy.

Petacchi, one of the world's top sprinters who has won stages in all three major Tours, tested positive for elevated levels of the asthma drug during the three-week race in June. A month later the Italian, who is asthmatic, was cleared by the Italian cycling federation (FCI) of any wrongdoing.

But CONI believe the 33-year-old, who rides for the Milram team, should be sanctioned, and recently stated their request for a one-year ban. "CONI's anti-doping prosecutors have lodged an appeal to the CAS in Lausanne against the decision of the Italian cycling federation to close the case concerning Alessandro Petacchi," a CONI statement said Thursday.

The FCI cleared Petacchi in July after deeming that his positive test for the substance was "the consequence of inhaling a therapeutic product, which cannot be seen as a doping offence."

Salbutamol is primarily used in asthma medicines to relieve attacks and open up the airways, but when it is over-used it is deemed to have anabolic effects.

Zabel set for T-Mobile return?

Milram sprinter Erik Zabel could be set for a dramatic return to his old team T-Mobile after next month's world road cycling championships, according to speculation in the German press on Thursday.

Zabel was one of the stars of the hugely successful German outfit during his 12-year spell with the team, which was previously known as Deutsche Telekom. The 37-year-old left the team in 2006 to join Milram, but earlier this year Zabel confessed that he used the banned blood-booster EPO (erythropoietin) for a brief spell while racing for the German team. Zabel said he took EPO in 1996, the year he won the first of his six consecutive green jerseys at the Tour de France.

With uncertainty surrounding Milram, and a number of other teams in the wake of several doping scandals, German daily tabloid Bild has speculated that Zabel is set for a return to T-Mobile.

The German squad, who are now one of several teams operating strict, internal anti-doping programmes to deter cheating, will name their team for the 2008 season at the end of next month's world championships in Stuttgart.

T-Mobile press officer Stefan Wagner would not confirm any of the team's new recruits before then, however Zabel himself fuelled speculation when he said: "You can never say never."

© AFP 2007

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