Giro D'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca appeared at a CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) anti-doping hearing on Saturday to explain his alleged involvement with a doctor suspected of trafficking banned substances.
Di Luca, who also won the prestigious Liege-Bastogne-Liege race this year, is under suspicion of using or attempting to use doping products. The 31-year-old rider, who rides for the Liquigas team on the ProTour, was quizzed for two hours by CONI's anti-doping prosecutor, Ettore Torri.
"I told them everything I know," said Di Luca who was flanked by his two lawyers, Federico Cecconi and Tommaso Marchese. "It was a cordial meeting and I am very confident about my future. I'm calm and I am certain that I will come out of this situation clean."
Earlier this week a civil court in Pescara acquitted Di Luca of any doping offence.
Torri said a decision on Di Luca could be expected shortly. "We will evaluate Danilo Di Luca's situation next week," he said. "Di Luca's lawyers presented his defence and he responded to all of the questions. He explained that he was not involved in this scandal."
If CONI decide Di Luca is guilty, they will recommend a punishment for him and the case will then be handed over to the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI). The FCI will have the final say on whether or not to ban Di Luca from cycling.
Di Luca said he was focusing his mind on the world championships, which take place in Stuttgart, Germany in late September. "I am training intensely and my big target for the season is to take part in the world championships and do everything to show that I am in top form," said the Italian.
Di Luca 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.
Italian pole vaulter Giuseppe Gibilisco, a former world champion, is also implicated in the scandal. CONI have recommended Gibilisco be banned for two years.
© AFP 2007