No decision yet on whether Ballan’s vacant slot on BMC Racing Team will be filled by another rider
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Saturday, January 18, 2014

No decision yet on whether Ballan’s vacant slot on BMC Racing Team will be filled by another rider

by Shane Stokes at 4:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Will team put another in place of banned Italian?

BMC Racing TeamOne day after the Italian Olympic Committee CONI announced that Alessandro Ballan had been given a two year ban over his links to the Mantova doping affair, his BMC Racing Team has answered a question on whether or not his place on the team could be filled by a new signing.

Successful riders like Chris Horner and Samuel Sanchez are still on the market, while there are many others who were left short when a number of teams folded towards the end of 2013.

In addition to that, there are also a large number of amateurs each year who would jump at the chance to be with a pro team, particularly one as big as the American outfit.

However it is not yet clear if anyone hoping for a ride will have an opportunity with the team.

“There has been no decision made on filling the available roster spot, nor is there a timetable right now for doing so,” a BMC Racing Team spokesman told VeloNation today.

While that doesn’t shut the door, it also is non-committal about whether the team could end up filling the slot vacated by Ballan.

After hours of silence the team issued a statement yesterday laying out its position with the 2008 world champion, saying that it was terminating his contract.

“Ballan received a two-year suspension from CONI Friday for charges in connection with his former team. In accordance with the BMC Racing Team's strict anti-doping policy, Ballan is no longer a member of the BMC Racing Team,” stated president/general manager Jim Ochowicz.

The statement is somewhat misleading as it is an automatic UCI rule that athletes lose their places on teams once they are sanctioned for a doping offence, rather than that of pro squads themselves.

Ballan will not be eligible to return to competition until January 16th 2016. He will be 36 years old then, and it is unclear if he will try – or indeed be successful – in finding a new team.

He has described the decision to give him a two year ban as too harsh, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport that he was sanctioned for undergoing ozone therapy. It is banned by WADA, but he claims that he was suffering from acute hepatitis due to cytomegalovirus, and was not racing at the time due to the illness. It is not yet clear if he will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


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