Di Luca now says he has no contract with Lampre-Farnese Vini
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Di Luca now says he has no contract with Lampre-Farnese Vini

by VeloNation Press at 7:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping

Earlier today Italian Danilo Di Luca told Alessandra De Stefano on his RaiSport show that he was expecting to return to cycling soon, and had 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.

This evening the cyclist has released a statement clarifying what he intended to say with his statements on De Stefano's program.

"The question of Alessandra De Stefano took me by surprise and I answered incorrectly. I confirm that I am optimistic about a speedy return to racing, but I have absolutely no contract signed, nor even a verbal agreement with Lampre.

"Actually I should have said that I have established a relationship with Farnese wines for years and that when I return I will of course support them." Di Luca apologized for the confusion he has created with his statements.

Di Luca tested positive for CERA, a third generation of the blood-boosting drug EPO (erythropoietin), twice during the 2009 Giro d'Italia. 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 said he still believes he can prove his innocence in an appeal to the CAS before the season ends.

Di Luca has history with doping scandals, and was suspended for three months between 2007 and 2008 for his involvement in the long-running Oil for Drugs scandal.

There is still a risk that the announcement could factor into the UCI's expected decision on the Lampre-Farnese Vini team's ProTour license at the end of the month. 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. They failed to meet the financial requirements of the ProTour, and if they don't satisfy the UCI's auditors by March 31, their 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, Di Luca's statements could potentially come back to haunt the team for the other requirements. 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.


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