Tour de France News Flash for July 12, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
Two riders have been thrown out of the Tour de France by the organisers
on Monday due to the fact that they are under investigation in Italy for
alleged doping offences. Italian Stefano Casagranda (Saeco) and Slovenian
Martin Hvastija (Alessio-Bianchi) are the riders in question, after Tour
director Jean-Marie Leblanc learned that they are part of an unresolved
investigation in Padova.
At the start of the Tour, all teams signed a code of ethics agreeing
to exclude any rider who was under judicial investigation for doping,
and Saeco's Danilo Di Luca wasn't even allowed to start the Tour because
of this. And in addition to Hvastija and Casagranda, there is also the
possibility that Stefano Zanini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) and Pavel Padrnos
(US Postal-Berry Floor) could be thrown out on similar grounds.
Cyclingnews has learned that Tour organisers ASO sent out a request
late last month to two prosecutors in Italy who are investigating doping
cases in cycling, including PM Luigi Bocciolini in Florence and PM Paola
Cameran in Padova. The request was to determine whether any riders were
still under investigation for doping. Last Saturday, Paola Cameran replied
to ASO through the Guardia di Finanza saying that yes, the dossiers on
Hvastija and Casagranda were still open. Both riders were involved in
two investigations: one was the 2001 Giro blitz (which was closed) and
the other was the Padova investigation related to Davide Rebellin, Serguei
Gonchar and Ivan Gotti that was shown on Italian TV.
Hvastija explained to Cyclingnews that he was one of the many
riders involved in the 2001 Giro blitz in San Remo where police confiscated
products from every team hotel. However, the products were tested and
none of them were found to be illegal, and the case was closed. The subsequent
investigation in by Paola Cameran in Padova started when Hvastija's room
was bugged, and a conversation was recorded between him and Endrio Leoni
where they discussed the corticosteroid Kenacort. Hvastija denied that
the conversation was about either of them taking it, but that years ago
some riders used it quite a lot before there was testing.
Padrnos and Zanini unclear
Pavel Padrnos and Stefano Zanini were both implicated in the San Remo
blitz investigation conducted by Luigi Bocciolini. Zanini was suspended
for seven months for having an unopened syringe in his room. But Bocciolini
has not yet responded to ASO, thus it's possible that both of those riders
could be considered unwelcome in the Tour.
Cyclingnews spoke with US Postal-Berry Floor director Johan Bruyneel
in Limoges about Pavel Padrnos. "I don't know anything about the cases
of the other riders, but I'm familiar with Pavel's," said Bruyneel. "It's
true he was one of the riders investigated in the blitz of San Remo. What
we know is that they found an amino acid, L-Carnitine (legal) in his suitcase.
What happened was that one of the filler products contained 0.001 percent
of mannitol, which is part of the diuretic family (illegal). Mannitol
is also present in things like Immodium and some vitamin C tablets. As
far as we're concerned, there is no case. We have no doubts about Pavel."
It's not clear at this point whether or not Padrnos and Zanini's cases
have been closed. A reply is expected from Bocciolini shortly regarding
the status of those cases. It should be noted that these dossiers can
be left open for years without any conclusive evidence, and although investigations
may be concluded, they may be left open because of Italian bureaucratic
inefficiency and the glacial speed of the Italian justice system.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)