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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

News flash for June 17, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Pantani given an eight month ban

Marco Pantani's 2002 season may be already finished, after the Italian Cycling Federation's disciplinary commission handed him an eight month ban for doping today. Pantani, 32, was found guilty of possessing a syringe containing insulin as a result of the investigations into the 2001 Giro d'Italia raids in San Remo. Insulin is a banned substance in cycling unless the athlete is a diabetic. However, it can be used in sport to enhance the effects of substances such as growth hormone.

The eight month ban is longer than the FCI gave Mapei's Stefano Zanini for a similar offence, and Pantani's lawyer said that they would appeal against the decision.

Pantani is still the most popular cyclist in Italy, despite the fact that his last win came two years ago in the 2000 Tour de France. His biggest success was when won the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in 1998, but then he was expelled from the Giro in sensational fashion in 1999 while in the lead, when his hematocrit was measured at over 50% before the penultimate stage.

Since then, Pantani's cycling career has been marked by a series of court cases involving various doping charges. He was found guilty of sporting fraud in 2001 as a result of having a hematocrit of 60.1% following an accident in the 1995 Milan-Turin. He was given a three month suspended prison sentence and fined 1.2 million lire (US$550) but appealed against the decision and won.

Pantani's last race was the Giro d'Italia, where he abandoned in the 16th stage, claiming that he was suffering from bronchitis. At the time he said that Mercatone Uno will no longer sponsor his team next year, and he is looking for new sponsors.