Positive Pfannberger risks life ban from cycling
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Positive Pfannberger risks life ban from cycling

by Agence France-Presse at 12:34 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Doping
Austrian cyclist Christian Pfannberger could be banned for life after testing positive a second time for the banned blood booster EPO during a random doping control.

Pfannberger, 29, will miss the three-week Tour of Italy, which begins this Saturday after his Russian-backed team, Katusha, suspended him after the International Cycling Union (UCI) announced news of his positive test.

A statement released Thursday by the UCI confirmed that the Austrian had tested positive for EPO (erythropoietin) at an out-of-competition control on March 19.

The UCI were quick to accord Pfannberger the presumption of innocence while awaiting the outcome of an anti-doping hearing, and crucially analysis of a B sample.

But if he admits to doping, or if the B sample also tests positive he, according to current UCI regulations, faces a maximum penalty of a life ban from the sport because he has already been sanctioned for a doping offence, a two-year ban for EPO (erythropoietin) use in 2004.

"The decision to provisionally suspend Mr Pfannberger was made in response to a report from the WADA accredited laboratory in Seibersdorf indicating an Adverse Analytical Finding of Recombinant Erythropoietin (EPO) in a urine sample collected from him at an out of competition test on 19 March 2009," said the statement.

"The provisional suspension remains in force until a hearing panel convened by the Austrian Anti-Doping Agency determines whether Mr Pfannberger has committed an anti-doping rule violation under Article 21 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules.

"Mr Pfannberger has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample. "He shall be accorded the right to the presumption of innocence until a final decision has been made on this matter."

Pfannberger's positive test will be seen as a further blow to Austrian cycling, which is still reeling from the fallout of the scandal prompted by Bernhard Kohl's positive from last year's Tour de France.

Kohl finished a surprise third in the race, surprising many by winning the coveted polka dot jersey for the King of the Mountains title.

Later, it was revealed he had tested for the latest generation of the banned blood booster EPO, (CERA).Katusha, the first Russian-backed team in the peloton and which stars the likes of Australian Robbie McEwen and Italian Filippo Pozzato, have replaced Pfannberger by Russian Alexander Serov for the Giro d'Italia.

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