Lampre Merida confirms Scarponi is currently suspended, meeting about his future set to take place soon
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lampre Merida confirms Scarponi is currently suspended, meeting about his future set to take place soon

by Shane Stokes at 6:59 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Italian remains under cloud despite expiration of CONI ban

Michele ScarponiMissing from the Lampre roster thus far in 2013 and indeed from all recent team photographs, the Italian team has confirmed that Michele Scarponi is currently sidelined from the team over his links with Dr. Michelle Ferrari and faces a crucial meeting very soon.

“He has been suspended by the team since last October, due to the links to Michele Ferrari,” team spokesman Andrea Appiani told VeloNation today. “He is in a standby and in the next days there will be a meeting between him and team management. There will be a decision on how the situation could evolve.”

In December Scarponi was handed a three month ban by the anti-doping tribunal of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), which had found him guilty of working with Ferrari despite rules blocking Italian athletes from using his services.

“I honestly didn’t think I was doing anything wrong,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport then. “I accept the verdict of three months. It was the lightest punishment, but I was hoping that they could do something less or even nothing.”

In fact, the suspension was close to nothing, given that it was mostly backdated in running from October 1st until December 31st.

“I accept this sanction and I'll be back in the New Year. The ruling will not affect my next season,” he insisted at the time.

However that has not been the case: a month and a half into the new season, Scarponi has played no part in team activities thus far, and it appears far from certain that he will in the future.

Asked if he could end up leaving the team, Appiani said that had to be determined. “At the moment I don’t know – there will be a meeting to understand how to evolve the situation.”

He said that the meeting would either take place by Friday or at the beginning of next week. At that point in time it will become clear if Scarponi – who was awarded the 2011 Giro d’Italia title after Alberto Contador was stripped of victory by the Court of Arbitration for Sport – will be on the market again.

Meanwhile Radsport News has reported that Joaquim Rodriguez is on the wish list of the Italian team. The 2012 UCI WorldTour champion is currently contracted to Katusha but is uncertain about his future programme due to the fact that the Russian team was refused a WorldTour licence in December.

CAS is due to issue its ruling on the matter soon, clarifying things for the team. If it is unsuccessful in its appeal, Rodriguez will have no guarantee of riding the Tour de France and other top races and will have to rely on Katusha getting wildcard invitations.

If Lampre Merida drops Scarponi and successfully bids for him, though, he would take a leadership role and be part of a team with assured entry to the top events.

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