Di Luca banned for three months

ProTour leader pays price for 'oil for drug' involvement

Tour of Italy winner Danilo Di Luca has been suspended for three months by Italy's Olympic Committee (CONI) for his connection with a doping scandal, the Ansa news agency reported on Tuesday.

CONI's anti-doping committee had called for a four-month ban against Di Luca who pulled out of last month's world cycling championships in Stuttgart because of the affair.

Di Luca told reporters he felt "very calm, as always" as he arrived ahead of the hearing which lasted 90 minutes.

The rider is accused of having worked with Italian doctor Carlo Santuccione, who is under investigation for allegedly supplying banned substances to Italian sportsmen. Italian police started investigating Santuccione in 2003 after intercepting his telephone calls in a scandal known in Italy as 'Oil for drug'.

Police are believed to have on tape an incriminating conversation between Santuccione and Di Luca from last year.

No Tour of Lombardy

The ban means that Di Luca will miss the final ProTour race of the season, the Tour of Lombardy this Saturday. Di Luca currently leads the ProTour series by 15 points over Australian Cadel Evans, but the latter could take the jersey with a good ride in Lombardy. Should Di Luca hang onto his lead, then the UCI will be forced to award the ProTour trophy to a suspended rider.

© AFP and BikeRadar 2007

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