Police raids come up clean for Petacchi, not for Bernucci
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Police raids come up clean for Petacchi, not for Bernucci

by VeloNation Press at 6:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping

Alessandro PetacchiGuardia di Finanza searches of the homes of Lampre-Farnese Vini teammates and friends Lorenzo Bernucci and Alessadro Petacchi this weekend came in with mixed results for the Italians. While police revealed banned substances were found in Bernucci's home, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport Petacchi's residence came up clean.

Bernucci was initially scheduled to ride in yesterday's Tour of Flanders, but suddenly came down with a "fever" on Saturday and returned home to Italy.

The searches were carried out as part of a Guardia di Finanza operation - "Via col doping" - their initiative to eradicate doping. The investigation is focused on the international trade of banned substances, and was born out of statements made by former Giro d'Italia king of the mountains winner Emanuele Sella. Sella tested positive for Cera, the third generation of EPO, in an out of competition doping control in 2008. The Italian, who now rides for the Carmiooro-NGC team, cooperated with the investigation with the eventual trail leading to this past weekend's raids.

In Bernucci's home police found albumin, a substance used to dilute the blood and lower hematocrit levels, sibutramine, a stimulant, and some vials with unknown substances that required further analysis, according to Italian paper La Repubblica. Lampre's team doctor Carlo Guardascione told the Gazzetta that the products found in Bernucci's home were said to have belonged to his wife and brother.

This isn't the first time Bernucci has been connected to banned substances. In 2007 he tested positive for an appetite suppressant and was fired from his then T-Mobile team. At the time he claimed that he had used the substance for years, and was unaware of the fact that it had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) list of banned substances.

For evergreen sprinter Alessandro Petacchi the news was slightly better. While there were no banned substances found at his home in La Spezia, the negative headlines are something he would rather not have been associated with. The Lampre-Farnese Vini sprinter is already in hot water with authorities on tax evasion charges. He reportedly received 2.8 million euros from commercial contracts and image rights, earnings that the Guardia di Finanza in Milan say were never reported to the Italian tax authorities. Several other high profile Italians are involved in the investigations, with money in excess of 100 million euros believed to be spread out in hidden bank accounts throughout Austria, Britain, Holland, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

This isn't the first time that he has had an issue with the anti-doping authorities. In 2007 Petacchi was suspended for high levels of the asthma drug salbutamol, which the Tuscan had clearance to use as treatment for his medical condition. He was later absolved when the Italian Cycling Federation determined the high dosage was unintentional. The situation caused him to miss the Tour de France that year.

The 37-year-old has enjoyed an excellent start to the season with his move to the Lampre team. He's had two stage wins in the Girodella Provincia Calabria, his fifth victory in the GP Costa Etrusca, a stage of the Giro di Sardegna and he finished on the podium in Milan-Sanremo.


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