Stefan Schumacher and Davide Rebellin confirmed positive for CERA

Italian Olympic Committee suspends Rebellin immediately

Cyclists Davide Rebellin and Stefan Schumacher have been confirmed as testing positive for the banned drug CERA at the Beijing Olympics last year.

The Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) on Wednesday confirmed that Rebellin was under investigation for doping due to a positive test returned at last year's Olympics.

The 37-year-old, who earlier this month won the prestigious Fleche Wallonne race, tested for the new generation of EPO, Cera in a re-test of samples from Beijing.

"Coni president Giovanni Petrucci has suspended an Olympic athlete with immediate effect," said a Coni statement on Tuesday night before confirming press reports about Rebellin on Wednesday.

Rebellin won the silver medal in the men's road race at the 2008 Olympics. The Diquigiovanni rider will appear before anti-doping prosecutors next Monday.

His team said they had suspended Rebellin pending the doping inquiry while stressing that Rebellin was a Gerolsteiner rider last year when he competed at the Games.

"We're shocked and incredulous and we hope the B sample will prove the rider's claim of innocence," said a Diquigiovanni statement. We really hope that because at the beginning of the season we were able to admire his qualities, not just sporting but also moral."

Team owner Lino Diquigiovanni insisted that he believed in his rider in an interview with Italian news agency Ansa.

"I spoke to Davide by telephone, he's very bitter but at the same time he denies every accusation," he said. "And he assures that what's happened is not true."

Meanwhile, German cyclist Stefan Schumacher has also been identified as one of the six athletes from the Beijing Olympic Games who has tested positive for banned-blood booster EPO CERA.

"The German Cycling Federation (BDR) have passed documents about a failed doping test on to the sportsman Stefan Schumacher," said the BDR in a statement.

"It is now up to him whether he requires the opening of the B sample or not."

Schumacher first tested positive for CERA in October 2008 after a sample he gave from the Tour de France was retested and in February he was banned by the UCI, cycling's governing body, for two years.

© AFP 2009

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