Padrnos and Zanini under threatClose
A San Remo magistrate has confirmed Pavel Padrnos and Stefano Zanini are implicated in his investigaPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Like a juggler of ticking time-bombs, Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc found himself with more trouble on his hands tonight, following reports in Italy that Stefano Zanini and Pavel Padrnos will indeed have to face trial for doping offences in San Remo, Italy, on October 27. Wednesday morning's Gazzetta dello Sport referred to a statement issued by the presiding San Remo magistrate, Paolo Luppi, on Tuesday, which confirmed that Zanini and Padrnos are among 10 riders and two masseurs due to respond to doping allegations in October. Alberto Elli, Ermanno Brignoli, both of whom have now retired, plus Giuseppe di Grande, Dario Frigo and Giuliano Figueras all face the same accusations, although none is present at the Tour. The names of the remaining three riders and two masseurs involved have not yet been disclosed. The 10 riders are accused of "using medicines likely to enhance sporting performance with the intent of falsifying the result of a sporting competition". The allegations relate to the 2001 Giro d'Italia. Speaking at the finish line in Figeac after stage 15 of the Tour tonight, Zanini claimed to be "serene". "I haven't received any notice from San Remo," the Italian maintained. Leblanc's unwavering recent record of zero tolerance with riders involved in doping-related police or judicial inquiries suggests that Padrnos and Zanini will be asked to leave the Tour de France in the immediate future. More than for the teams of the respective riders involved, this causes a further headache for Leblanc. Yesterday the Tour supremo spoke publicly of the reluctance with which on Monday he was forced to dismiss two riders, Stefano Casagranda and Martin Hvastija, for whom the presumption of innocence, in a legal sense at least, must apply. Now he could be obliged by his own precedent to adopt the same hard line with Zanini and Padrnos, both of whom have already received the backing of their respective teams. Even more gravely, Leblanc will be asked to explain why, according to Luppi, the Socit du Tour de France is yet to formally ask the San Remo magistrates for clarification of Padrnos and Zanini's position. This contradicts claims made by Leblanc earlier in the Tour, and reiterated at a press conference on Monday, that it was the Socit du Tour that was being kept waiting by San Remo. The revelation also presumably explains why Leblanc had not sent Padrnos and Zanini packing on Thursday night, and why they may still be in the race on Friday. Procycling sources in Italy could only speculate tonight that Leblanc may have sent his request to Giovanni Maddoleni, the judge from whom Luppi has recently taken over the administration of the case. Italian bureaucracy can be blamed for many things in life, but this...?