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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Second Edition News for May 3, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Pantani recommended for 4 years suspension by CONI

The anti-doping commission of the Italian Olympic Committee has recommended that Marco Pantani be suspended for four years for doping offences. CONI has passed on its recommendations to the Italian Cycling Federation, who earlier this week declared that Pantani would be allowed to race in the Giro d'Italia, no matter what the outcome of the investigation was.

The basis for the proposed sanction is the syringe of insulin allegedly found in Pantani's hotel room at the time of the police raids on the Giro d'Italia last year in San Remo. Pantani at first denied that he had occupied the room, therefore the syringe couldn't have been his. However at the hearing on Monday, he modified his story, saying that he did occupy that room but did not know that it contained a syringe of insulin.

"I'm sure, absolutely sure, that the things which were found in my room weren't mine. My conscience is clear," he said.

The commission's president Giacomo Aiello said afterwards that he would not recommend an immediate suspension until more information was known. This changed yesterday with the four year ban recommendation, which if imposed by the FCI could mean the end of Pantani's career.

In April, the commission recommended bans for 13 Italian cyclists, based on the outcome of the Giro raids. However six of these were cleared because the drugs in their possession (mainly caffeine) were restricted, and not banned outright. Insulin too is a restricted substance, and is only allowed for diabetic athletes, of which Pantani is not.

Pantani will start in the Giro, but his fate after that remains up in the air.

Ullrich loses his licence

Jan Ullrich has temporarily lost his driver's licence, after being penalised for leaving the scene of an accident on Tuesday night. A story in today's Bild reports that Ullrich was driving his Porsche 911 in the company of his Telekom teammate Alexandre Vinokourov and two girls, when he hit a rack containing two bicycles near Freiburg. He drove off, but the number of his car was noted by a witness, who reported it to police. They discovered it was Ullrich, and took away his licence as well as ordering him to take a blood test.

Ullrich's team manager Rudy Pevenage confirmed that he had previously drunk several glasses of wine, putting this down to his frustration over his long injury. "Such behaviour from the leader of our team is not acceptable," said Pevenage. "We will talk about it with our team director, Walter Godefroot."