Danilo Di Luca Tests Positive for EPO
Team Vini Fantini-Selle Italia's Danilo Di Luca faces lifetime ban after testing positive for EPO.
The 2007 Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca has been found positive (non-negative) for EPO after a surprise test at his home before this year's Giro d'Italia race. WADA issued a report following the positive test result, which forced UCI to act by suspending Di Luca.
If confirmed in a backup B sample, the Italian Di Luca – who rides for the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia squad – risks a lifetime ban for what would be his third registered offence.
The test was carried out April 29, five days before the Giro started, and the result drew a harsh rebuke from the Vini Fantini team director Luca Scinto who immediately distanced himself from Di Luca. "Di Luca is an idiot. I never wanted him," Scinto commented and added "Di Luca is sick. He needs to be helped."
Seemingly headed for retirement just a few months ago, Di Luca signed with Vini Fantini on April 26. Scinto and others were against hiring him but the sponsors eventually prevailed. Before being kicked out of the Giro d'Italia, Di Luca was 26th overall, 33 minutes and 33 seconds behind general classification leader Vincenzo Nibali.
In 2009, Di Luca was handed a two-year ban after testing positive during the Giro d'Italia for Cera, an advanced form of the blood booster EPO. That ban was subsequently reduced by nine months after he collaborated with Italian anti-doping authorities. Di Luca was stripped of his second-place finish and two stage wins in the 2009 Giro.
After winning the 2007 Giro d'Italia, Di Luca was banned for three months later in the year during a four-year doping investigation titled Oil for Drugs.
He fared well in several stages of this year's race, finishing third in the seventh leg, seventh in stage nine, sixth in stage 11 and 10th in Thursday's uphill time-trial.
It is the second doping case from this year's race, after the French rider Sylvain Georges tested positive for the banned stimulant Heptaminol in a urine sample after the seventh stage. The 28-year-old AG2R La Mondiale rider was immediately withdrawn from the race. Friday's 19th stage was cancelled due to snow.
Meanwhile UCI President Pat McQuaid, who is up for reelection later this year, continuously claims the state of cycling has never been better.
On May 14 RoadCycling.com's Neil Browne criticized team and race organizers for allowing Di Luca to take part in this year's Giro d'Italia asking if the reputations of some riders are too far damaged for them to be allowed to take part in races such as the Giro.