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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Third Edition News for May 18, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Garzelli non-negative

Click for larger image
Stefano Garzelli
Photo: © Sirotti

The current leader of the Giro d'Italia, Stefano Garzelli, has tested non-negative in an anti-doping control, his Mapei-Quick Step team announced. Garzelli was tested after winning stage 2 which finished in Liege, earning the pink jersey in the process. The substance was reportedly probenecid, which can be used to mask other doping substances.

According to Mapei doctor Claudi Pecci, this is part of the family of drugs that is used to treat gout. It's not sold in Italy, Switzerland or Belgium. It's defined as a masking agent because it can help retain certain substances in the body.

Garzelli won the Giro d'Italia two years ago, and was considered the favourite to win this year after already taking two stage victories.

He will be allowed to continue the Giro until the results of his counter-analysis are known, probably within the next two days.

The Mapei-Quick Step team will give a press conference shortly. Stay tuned for more updates. (The term "non-negative" is a UCI definition. A "positive" is determined only when both A and B samples are positive. Until then it's "non-negative". Ed)

Two riders non-negative for Nesp

Two riders in the Giro d'Italia have been declared non-negative for Nesp, an 'improved' form of EPO that contains darbepoetin alpha. The announcement was made by the organisers this morning before the start of the sixth stage from Cuneo to Varazza, scheduled for 12:15. One rider is Panaria's Faat Zakirov, while the other is Roberto Sgambelluri (Mercatone Uno).

Nesp is a shortened name for the drug Aranesp, which is a longer lasting and more effective form of EPO, which boosts oxygen flow by increasing the number of red blood cells in the body. It is used to treat people with chronic kidney insufficiency.

As it is not naturally produced by the body, it is quite easy to detect. The drug was first detected in sports during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where several cross country skiers were found to have traces of it in their urine.

The tests were made before the prologue in Groningen, and the riders can request a counter evaluation. If this is also positive, then he may be sanctioned and will certainly be disqualified from the Giro. This won't matter in the case of Zakirov, as he has already pulled out. Sgambelluri is still racing.

The Panaria team has been decimated by doping scandals in recent weeks, with the sanction of Giuliano Figueras before the Giro, the arrests of Antonio Varriale and Nicola Chesini, and now the case of Faat Zakirov.

Team manager Bruno Reverberi said that "After 20 years in cycling this is a hard blow to deal with. Even our sponsors are concerned but they have a great love of cycling and want to continue."

This was backed up by Mexican climber Julio Perez Cuapio, who commented that "My morale is really low. The whole team is really down over this. But the sponsors have asked me to hang tough until the end of the Giro."