Liquigas disputes Pellizotti doping charges, says legal action is possible
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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Liquigas disputes Pellizotti doping charges, says legal action is possible

by Conal Andrews at 6:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Doping
 

Franco PellizottiThe Liquigas team of Franco Pellizotti, who yesterday was named as one of three riders under investigation by the UCI in relation to possible doping, has floated the possibility of taking legal action over the matter.

The team issued a statement today in which it said that its preliminary investigations don’t prove that the rider concerned has done anything improper.

“In order to fully understand the situation and the factors which led to this decision, Liquigas Sport has tasked its own physician, Doctor Roberto Corsetti, to analyse the medical and scientific aspects relating to this case,” it said in the communiqué.

“According to current analyses, the evidence which has been presented does not seem to scientifically prove with certainty any improper conduct by the athlete. Liquigas Sport has faith in the explanations that will be provided by Franco Pellizotti and by the experts whom he has hired.”

The 2009 Tour de France King of the Mountains and Giro runner-up (after the disqualification of Danilo Di Luca) was one of the big favourites for this year’s Giro, which starts on Saturday. However he, Tadej Valjavec (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Jesús Rosendo Prado (Andalucía-CajaSur) were all effectively sidelined yesterday when the UCI issued its statement.

It said that disciplinary procedures were requested against the trio “for apparent violation of the Anti-Doping Rules on the basis of the information provided by the blood profiles in their biological passports.”

Pellizotti’s team blasted the timing of the announcement, coming as it did just five days before the start of this year’s Giro d'Italia. “Liquigas Sport is extremely disappointed about the action that has been taken, with particular reference to the untimely notification of the athlete’s alleged abnormal values,” it wrote. “These values actually date back to the summer of 2009 but have only now been made public on the eve of such an important engagement.”

It added that it is willing to take the matter to the courts. While it left open the possibility of taking action against the rider should he be shown to have done wrong, the overall tone of the statement plus the final line suggests strongly that it sees the rider as having been wronged.

“Pending further developments and until the final ruling is announced, Liquigas Sport would like to state that it is ready to immediately take all legal action necessary in order to safeguard its image, as it has already done in recent months: both with regard to the cyclist should any improper conduct on his behalf be confirmed and also with regard to the authorities and institutions which may have unjustly caused this damage.

“Liquigas Sport also hopes that the final decision will be made in reasonable time so that it may intervene as quickly as possible with suitable action against the authorities concerned.”

In the meantime, Vincenzo Nibali is thought likely to take Pellizotti’s place in the team’s Giro lineup.

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