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85th Giro d'Italia (GT)

Italy, May 11-June 2, 2002

News for May 24, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Stage 11 wrap up

Gilberto Simoni answered his critics today in an inspired win to the top of Campitello Matese, beating Francesco Casagrande (Fassa Bortolo) who had spent the latter part of the stage on Simoni's wheel after the two had broken away with 3 km to go. In the end, Simoni and Casagrande finished just 4 seconds ahead of the next small group, but it was a sure sign of the fireworks to come in the high mountains.

Then there's the case of Simoni's cocaine administering dentist, which now has the police and an investigating judge involved in his home town of Trento.

Stage 11 full results & report
Live report
Photos

Post stage comments

Gilberto Simoni, 1st stage

When questioned on his motivation to win: "Revenge? No, not especially. I felt guilty of being negligent, guilty to have tarnished the sport I love. This is a victory that rewards the team. I spent a very bad day yesterday. The team has worked well, but I hoped in vain that Casagrande would roll through. I did not want him to win, because I did all the work before. But I was afraid for a moment that it was a feint. That's why I didn't give it everything."

"The Tour de France? I would be disappointed if I could not dispute it. I built my program according to the Giro and the Tour, and my form is improving as the Giro goes on. The Tour is difficult but there is more than a month gap between the two races. Now, everything could change."

Simoni not in the clear yet

Gilberto Simoni
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

The dentist's certificate obtained by the Saeco team on Wednesday to explain the presence of cocaine in Simoni's urine sample on April 24 did little to appease the media and the fans, who are still recovering from Stefano Garzelli's shock exit two days ago. The certificate, dated April 24 and signed by Simoni's dentist Bruno Grosselli, said that a "The patient Gilberto Simoni today underwent urgent orthodontic [sic] treatment with the local anaesthetic containing Carbocaine two percent with adrenaline."

However, the test results clearly showed the presence of cocaine (in trace amounts) and its metabolites benzoilecgonine and metalicgonine - there can be no doubt that it was cocaine and not carbocaine, which is substantially different in chemical structure and is easily distinguishable in a drug test.

Police in Trento have now taken samples of the anaesthetic used by Dr Grosselli for further analysis, and an investigation has been opened by magistrate Bruno Giardina in Trento.

Simoni was also questioned for over two hours by Italian police after he won today's stage about the non-negative test for cocaine. Simoni stuck to his original story saying that it must have come from the dentist's treatment.

Saeco issued a press release saying that it has the "maximum confidence in its rider and respects his professionality" at the same time expressing "no doubts" as to the dental certificate's reliability, including its date.

Cadel Evans re-launches website

Cadel Evans and Mokasport have re-launched Cadel's official website, www.cadelevans.com. The site is structured to provide an "intimate insight into Cadel's life as a pro-cyclist". A special section of Cadelevans.com will be devoted to revealing Cadel's feelings, emotions, tips and tricks at selected events at which he will participate.

Cadel is currently lying in 10th position on GC in the Giro d'Italia, and is one of Mapei's main GC riders there along with Andrea Noč.

Garzelli case to be heard on June 3

The Swiss Cycling Federation will hear the case of Stefano Garzelli, who recently tested positive for probenecid in the Giro d'Italia, on June 3. Garzelli will be heard in Lugano by the president of the disciplinary commission, although he can choose to delay it if he wishes. Although an Italian, Garzelli lives near the Swiss border and races with a Swiss licence.

Frigo taken for a ride

It has been revealed that Dario Frigo's two phials of 'Hemassist', an artificial blood substitute that he was carrying during last year's Giro d'Italia, were nothing more than salt and water. Frigo was caught with the phials as well as one containing testosterone after the massive police search of rider hotels during the blitz of San Remo on June 6, 2001. After his Fassa Bortolo team found out, they sacked him immediately and he was ejected from the race.

Frigo later admitted to taking banned substances and was given a nine month suspension, which kept him out of competition until Paris-Nice this year. At the time he said that had bought the two vials of Hemassist "through the Internet, and they were delivered to me in mid-May in Malpensa airport by a man I had never seen before."

He said that he never intended to use them, which is may have been a good thing because Hemassist needs to be kept at -60 Celsius. Also, it was withdrawn from US testing after too many people died from it.

As it turns out, we needn't have worried about his health.

The prosecutor in charge of the Giro investigation in Florence requested that the phials be examined by two French pharmacologists. They found that the colourless liquid was in fact saline solution, which probably would have done Frigo more good than the Hemassist.

Saeco pulls Simoni before B sample announced; Mercatone flicks Sgambelluri

The Giro d'Italia continues to deliver almost as much action off the parcours, with Saeco management this morning announcing they were withdrawing last year's Giro winner Gilberto Simoni, currently in third place on GC and yesterday's stage winner.

The announcement was made this morning by Claudio Corti, Saeco's general manager, as well as Carmine Castellano, the director of the Giro d'Italia. The decision has shocked many as in theory, Simoni was still clear to continue in the Giro under UCI rules.

Even if Simoni's B test is positive for cocaine - and this was still not released at the time of Saeco's withdrawal of their star rider - according to UCI rules he would 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 have still won the Giro, regardless of the fate that awaits him afterwards. The UCI even 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."

Saeco's decision to withdraw the race favourite may indicate that investigations will reveal further information about the case.

At the press conference before Wednesday morning's stage, when the cocaine test was revealed, Corti said "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," Simoni at Wednesday'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."

Corti said 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.

Meanwhile, Mercatone Uno management has also given Roberto Sgambelluri his marching orders after he returned a positive test for NESP, a synthetic and easily detectable version of EPO, a forbidden doping agent favourred by endurance athletes.