CONI requests two-year ban for Di Luca

Giro champion must answer new doping accusations

Anti-doping officials at the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) requested Wednesday that Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) champion Danilo Di Luca be banned for two years after an abnormal doping test.

The abnormal result was returned after the 17th stage of the Giro from Linz in Austria to Monte Zoncolan on May 30th, 2007.

"Anti-doping prosecutors have requested that the cyclist Danilo Di Luca be brought before a judge to answer accusations of doping, with reference to an abnormal result," said a CONI statement.

CONI asked for the two-year ban in referring to article 2.2 of the World Anti-doping Code concerning the use or attempted use of banned substances or methods.

The doping tests on that stage 17, performed only on Italian riders in their hotel rooms, were carried out by surprise by CONI on top of those carried out by the International Cycling Union (UCI). As well as the 32-year-old Di Luca, Eddy Mazzoleni, Riccardo Riccò and former two-time Giro winner Gilberto Simoni were also tested unexpectedly.

According to the Italian press, Di Luca's results indicated an abnormally low level of hormones, akin to a child, suggesting that the cyclist was injected with water or saline solution after the stage.

Di Luca's lawyer Federico Cecconi told Italian press agency Ansa that it was wrong to ask for the rider to be banned.

"This situation is not clear and the scientific results are not homogeneous: other than Danilo's complete innocence, without wanting to turn this into an issue, how can you ask for a ban in a case such as this," complained Cecconi.

Di Luca, who rode for Liquigas last season but has since joined the Swiss LPR team, was called before CONI in December and denied having been injected with anything at all. The Italian, the ProTour winner in 2006, was banned for three months last October over his association with Dr Carlo Santuccione, a doctor accused of being involving with doping.

In December, Di Luca took his appeal against that suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

© AFP 2008

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