BMC Racing Team sidelines Ballan and Santambrogio pending outcome of Italian investigation
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Friday, April 09, 2010

BMC Racing Team sidelines Ballan and Santambrogio pending outcome of Italian investigation

by Conal Andrews at 6:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

While stressing that it is not making any assessment of guilt, the BMC Racing Team has decided to suspend former world champion Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio from competition while an Italian anti-doping investigation is ongoing.

The two have been mentioned in media reports in connection to an inquiry into 35 individuals, based around cycling coach Guido Nigrelli and his practices in the town of Mariana Mantovana in Northern Italy.

According to La Gazzetta Dello Sport, current and former riders with the Lampre squad, as well as team officials, are amongst those being scrutinized. It named Ballan, Santambrogio, former world number one Damiano Cunego and Francesco Gavazzi as riders thought to be connected to the case.

Cunego has officially denied any involvement [see separate VeloNation story today].

Responding to the news, BMC Racing Team President Jim Ochowicz said in a statement this morning that the team had decided to temporarily sideline two riders who transferred from Lampre over the winter.

“It has come to our attention that two of our riders, Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio, are the subject of an investigation by Italian authorities stemming from incidents that took place more than two years ago - when they were members of the Lampre team and not affiliated with the BMC Racing Team.

“The BMC Racing Team and its members were not aware of this investigation until a few days ago and we hope to obtain more information about the proceedings. However, we have already made the decision to withhold the two from competition, in accordance with the BMC Racing Team's own policy and the UCI's Code of Conduct (Section IX, Item 2). This should not be seen as pre-determination of guilt in connection with the Italian investigation. Both will have to personally address the accusations.”

2008 world champion Ballan was 35th in last weekend’s Tour of Flanders and was due to take part in Paris-Roubaix this coming Sunday.

Santambrogio was 37th overall in the recent Criterium International.

The Italian judge in charge of the investigation has said that he will complete his work before the end of May. With the Giro d’Italia starting on the 8th of that month, it would mean that the two BMC Racing riders are now extremely unlikely to take part.

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