Leonardo Piepoli tests positive

Busted twice at the Tour de France

Italian cyclist Leonardo Piepoli is facing a ban from the sport after the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) announced Monday he tested positive for banned substances twice at this year's Tour de France.

Piepoli, who won a stage and helped former Saunier Duval teammate Riccardo Riccò win two stages at the race, will now come before a CONI commission on Friday in connection with the failed tests on July 4 and 15.

Although the substance was not revealed by CONI, Italian news agency ANSA said Piepoli tested positive for a new strain of the banned blood-booster EPO (erythropoietin) called CERA. Despite its reputation as being notoriously difficult to detect, Riccò tested positive for CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator) from a sample taken at the race's fourth stage and has since been banned two years.

France's national anti-doping agency (AFLD) has since July pioneered a new blood test for CERA and is currently retroactively testing blood samples of riders during the 2008 race.

Despite not testing positive at the race, the 37-year-old Piepoli was sacked in the wake of Saunier Duval being thrown off the Tour de France - because of the scandal surrounding Riccò - due to doping suspicions.

At an anti-doping hearing on July 31, Piepoli, who won the 10th stage to Hautacam in the Pyrenees, denied any links to doping.

© BikeRadar & AFP 2008

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