Di Luca: Ban me... and Lance tooClose
Danilo Di Luca suggests that if he is prevented from riding the Tour then Lance Armstrong should beItalian star Danilo di Luca has spoken of his indignation and disbelief at learning that he may be barred from the Tour de France due to his involvement in an Italian drugs inquiry. Reacting to reports that Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc will adopt the same policy of zero tolerance with him as with team-mate Eddy Mazzoleni and Cofidis pair David Millar and Cdric Vasseur, Di Luca suggested that Lance Armstrong's right to participate in the Tour should also be questioned. Referring to allegations made in "LA Confidential - the secrets of Lance Armstrong", Di Luca said: "I ask myself whether Armstrong will ride the Tour in view of the revelations made by the book in France, which suggests that he has used substances, and which the French magistrates allowed to come out." Like Armstrong, Di Luca unequivocally denies ever having used banned performance-enhancing products. Investigated together with Mazzoleni, Fabio Sacchi (Fassa Bortolo), Mario Scirea and Alessio Galletti (both Domina Vacanze) in connection with the "Oil for Drugs" enquiry, Di Luca was recently the subject of phone taps and a police raid at his property in Spoltore, in the Abruzzi region of Italy. Police interest centres on the 27-year-old's links with doctor Carlo Santuccione. "I was searched at my home and they found nothing, I've neither tested positive or been outside of the regulations, and the telephone taps regarding me don't reveal anything," Di Luca protested on Saturday. Twenty-four hours later, only a mistimed sprint would cost Di Luca a maiden Italian national champion's jersey. The Saeco rider, nicknamed "the Killer", eventually trailed in fifth behind Alessio-Bianchi rider Cristian Moreni. "They are making my life hell and it's on my bike that I have to react," Di Luca continued. "I'm not in the same position as Mazzoleni - his is more serious. I'm being investigated by the Italian authorities because they can't do otherwise, but I ask myself whether all those riders who were under investigation three years after the Giro d'Italia drugs blitz will be allowed to ride the Tour. And what about Armstrong? And Ullrich? Have you all forgotten that Ullrich once tested positive and was banned?" Di Luca claims to have the support of his team and the UCI, who - he maintains - consider Leblanc's hard-line tactics "illegitimate". This appears to contradict a statement the Tour supremo made to Reuters on Friday: "We have decided, in agreement with the UCI, that any rider involved in a judiciary enquiry or police inquest won't be allowed to participate in the 2004 Tour de France." Saeco manager Claudio Corti is expected to name his Tour team - and hence put an end to speculation regarding Di Luca - later this week.