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85th Giro d'Italia (GT)
Italy, May 11-June 2, 2002
News for May 23, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Stage 10 wrap up
Robbie McEwen (Lotto) wrapped up a successful Giro campaign by winning the 10th stage from Maddaloni to Benevento. In weather conditions reminiscent of an Australian summer, McEwen bolted up the final cobbled rise to the finish line to win the stage by several lengths from Fabrizio Guidi. It was his last stage win here as he will not start tomorrow's stage as was his intention before the race.
Of course there was the almost obligatory doping story before the race, with the news that defending champion Gilberto Simoni tested 'non-negative' for cocaine just before the Giro del Trentino a month ago. According to UCI regulations, Simoni will be able to continue in the Giro d'Italia, as the test was taken too long before the race started. More on that below.
Post stage comments
Robbie McEwen (Lotto, 1st stage)
"It was my last chance as it was decided that I would stop after this stage. I have raced 60 times this season and have won 14 times. I must keep some strength."
"I will return home to Belgium, to see my wife and my baby (Ewan) who was born the day before I left for the Giro. In the next few stages of the Giro, I would have no chance. There's three mountain stages and a time trial - they are too hard for me.
"My next objective is the Tour de France. The stages in the first week are favourable to the sprinters. I'm also thinking of the yellow jersey if I ride a good prologue. With bonuses, this is achievable. In the Tour, I will go as far as possible, especially if I am in contention for the green jersey. Then I will rest a little and prepare for the World Championships."
Jens Heppner (Telekom, 1st GC)
"It will be difficult to keep the maglia rosa on the next stage to Campitello Matese. But I will do everything to get there. It is already fantastic to have worn it for five days."
Simoni allowed to continue, regardless of B test
The Giro d'Italia will more than likely not lose its defending champion, Gilberto Simoni, to a doping scandal. Simoni tested 'non-negative' to cocaine at a surprise control taken before the Giro del Trentino on April 24. The news was communicated to the Saeco team by the UCI on Tuesday night, at the same time as the results of Garzelli's second test became known.
At a press conference before this morning's stage, Simoni's team manager Claudio Corti said th"We're sure it's an accident. Gilberto has never taken cocaine. He had treatment at the dentist and that is what was found."
Simoni visited his family dentist on the morning of the 24th to have some dental work done for a magazine shoot. When he returned home he was met by two officers from the World Anti-Doping Agency, who took a sample from him, also testing 14 other riders including Roberto Sgambelluri who was non-negative for Nesp.
"I'm a cyclist. I'm not a cocaine addict. I've never used it," said Simoni at today's press conference. "If I'd wanted to I could have done it secretly, but not before the Giro del Trentino [note: he is from that area]. For a rider to be doped is one thing, this is something different. I'll try to show my innocence."
Claudio Corti said that the dentist has been contacted and information has been requested from him about the use of this drug as an anaesthetic, which is not common in dentistry any more. Lidocaine, and to a lesser extent Novocaine, are the main drugs used as local anaesthetics. They each have a different structure to cocaine.
Even if Simoni's B test is positive for cocaine, according to UCI rules he will not be ejected from the race as the control did not occur during the Giro d'Italia (it was taken before the Giro del Trentino on April 24). So Simoni could still win the Giro, regardless of the fate that awaits him afterwards.
The UCI issued a press release to clarify the regulations. "The UCI regulations respect the principle of right of defense and presumption of innocence. The person indicted for offence will be condemned and sanctioned after having had the possibility to be heard and to invoke all circumstances in his/her favour, and this will result in a time period between the positive testing and the start of the suspension, if the rider is declared guilty."
"This period does not perhaps respond to the spontaneous desire for immediate justice, but ensures that justice is done after all necessary verification. Without this, immediate justice could result in an injustice...Independently of a defense, guilt appreciation and a final sanction, the regulation foresees elimination, not as sanction, but as a protective measure with the aim of preserving the sporting quality."
The UCI deemed that Simoni's test could not influence the outcome of the Giro "Mr. Simoni will therefore be able to continue the Giro, as the positive result could not have incidence on his performance during the race."
Simoni was interviewed on RAI TV after today's 10th stage and was asked how he felt. "Well not that good," he replied in a congested sounding voice. "I've got a cold and a cough. And I don't dare take anything to treat it. They're following me."
(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)
Mapei to continue in the Giro
The Mapei-Quick Step team will continue in the Giro d'Italia, despite the loss of star rider Stefano Garzelli to a positive drug test. Garzelli was forced to leave the Giro at the end of stage 9 when he was declared positive for probenecid following confirmation of his B test.
Team general manager Aldo Sassi said that "The team will not retire like what happened with Pantani three years ago. We'll ask the riders to continue."
When asked about a doing a followup of the affair, Sassi replied that "We'll do that when we can make a precise evaluation of the situation."
About keeping Garzelli in the team: "It's not our habit to fire a rider and rehire them a month later. Now it's an incontrovertible positive test, but for an absurd product in insignificant quantities."
Daniele Nardello also commented "Why should we pull out? We've talked together and we'll continue to ride."