Altar boy image gone as Rebellin in further hot water
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Altar boy image gone as Rebellin in further hot water

by Conal Andrews at 8:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Doping
 

This time last year Italian rider Davide Rebellin was on the eve of a victorious world championship campaign with the Italian team. The squad were the dominant ones in the Elite world championships on home soil in Varese, taking first, second and fourth via the finishes of Alessandro Ballan, Damiano Cunego and Rebellin. It followed on from an excellent Olympic campaign by the latter, who was second behind Samuel Sanchez (Spain) in the road race.

However Rebellin’s fall from grace has been a dramatic one. He won Flèche Wallonne and placed third in Liège-Bastogne-Liège this year, but very soon afterwards was named as testing positive for CERA in last year’s Beijing Games.

The 38 year old is facing a ban of up to four years. He now also faces very considerable financial penalties after Italian officials declared in recent days that he, Formula One driver Vitantonio Liuzzi and many others are being investigated over possible tax evasion. Rebellin’s case appears to be a similar one to that of Mario Cipollini, who declared that he lived in Monacco but actually spent most of his time in Italy.

According to an Italian police source, the latest investigation involves a sum of almost half a billion euros. Last year, motorbike star Valentino Rossi paid 35 million in a settlement after a separate enquiry into his affairs.

Rebellin considered becoming a priest prior to his sporting career, and was nicknamed the Altar Boy for many years. That clean-cut image has however taken a big knock in the past six months, and he's fighting to save his reputation.

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