Di Luca claims he will be back in 2010 with Lampre-Farnese Vini
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Di Luca claims he will be back in 2010 with Lampre-Farnese Vini

by VeloNation Press at 12:39 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 

Last month Italian Danilo Di Luca was handed a two-year doping ban by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), along with a sizable 280,000 euro fine - equivalent to 70% of his yearly salary - for his positive doping result at the 2009 Giro d'Italia. Now, according to TuttoBiciWeb, Di Luca told Alessandra De Stefano on his RaiSport show that he's already signed a contract with one of Italy's largest teams.

"There's a good chance that I can begin racing again as soon as this year, and that's why I'm training every day. I already have a contract signed with Lampre, and I trust that within a month the CAS (Court of Arbitration in Sport) will deliver its opinion [on his case]. I am very optimistic," explained Di Luca on the program.

Di Luca, who won the 2007 Giro di'Italia, came in a close second to Russian Denis Menchov (Rabobank) in last year's edition, which ended in an exciting rain-soaked finish on slick cobbled streets near the Coliseum in Rome.

Soon after the race had completed, it was announced that Di Luca had tested positive for CERA, a third generation of the blood-boosting drug EPO (erythropoietin), twice during the race. It was reported that the Italian had been targeted by the International Cycling Union (UCI) based on anomalies found in blood parameters of his biological passport. The cyclist was immediately handed a provisional suspension by the UCI.

The Italian believes he can prove his innocence in an appeal to the CAS before the season ends.

This isn't the first time Di Luca has been involved in a doping scandal. Di Luca was suspended for three months between 2007 and 2008 – while leading the UCI’s flagship ProTour competition – for his involvement in the long-running Oil for Drugs scandal.

If he has in fact signed a contract with the Lampre-Farnese Vini team it would be unusual since the squad is already in hot water with the UCI. The governing body, as a favor to the team, made a special exception to grant the squad a provisional ProTour license until the end of March, when they failed to meet the financial requirements. If at that time they do not satisfy the UCI's auditors, the license will be revoked.

Another requirement for attaining ProTour status involves the reputation of the team, so while they may get their finances in order, if Di Luca's statements are correct, there remains the potential for them to fail on other requirements.

Lampre-Farnese-Vini has been one of the sport's top teams since 1999, and has been one of the biggest teams in Italy since merging with the Saeco team in 2005. The team has been a long-time home to three-time Giro di Lombardia and 2004 Giro d’Italia winner Damiano Cunego, and now also has sprinter Alessandro Petacchi among its ranks.

UPDATE:
Di Luca now says he has no contract with Lampre

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