Davide Rebellin is the latest high-profile name to have his credibility tested in an Italian court c
The threat of a damning postscript loomed over Davide Rebellin’s 2004 season on Tuesday, as a trial which sees the Gerolsteiner star accused of doping offences opened in Padova, Italy. Rebellin, the winner of three Classic races in spring 2004, is one of 15 riders on trial in Padova along with controversial doctor Enrico Lazzaro. The Gerolsteiner rider’s wife, Selina, is also among the accused. In February, former Giro d’Italia Ivan Gotti, his brother-in-law and retired sprinter Endrio Leoni – all implicated in the same investigation led by public prosecutor Paola Cameran – renounced their defence against the charges in return for a reduced sentence. The case of the another rider under investigation, former world time trial champion, Serghiy Gonchar is now being investigated by a different magistrate. In Padova, the case for the prosecution is largely based on evidence collected during the 2001 Giro d’Italia, when Rebellin was riding for Liquigas. The evidence includes hidden camera footage from the Liquigas team’s hotel, which has already been leaked to and aired on Italian state television. The videos appear to show riders talking about and using doping products. Some of the tapes were controversially broadcast after the death of former Liquigas rider Denis Zanette from a heart attack in January 2003. Among the other riders whose fate, along with Rebellin’s, will be decided over the coming days, weeks and possibly even months are Gianni Faresin, Martin Hvastija and Gorazd Stangelj. Rebellin has staunchly denied allegations of doping and said recently that he felt “serene” about his forthcoming trial.