Gavazzi's cocaine use to bring likely 2-year suspension
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gavazzi's cocaine use to bring likely 2-year suspension

by Samuel Morrison at 5:13 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Positive test helped to get his life back on track

Mattia GavazziMattia Gavazzi faces a two-year stop if the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) rules against him based on his positive test for cocaine in April.

"The positive set me free in a way," Gavazzi told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I was telling all sorts of lies. All the mistakes were my fault, no one forced me to use it, even if in my area it is easy to meet the wrong people."

Gavazzi tested positive for cocaine in a control on the morning Settimana Lombara started, March 31. He went on to win stage two, just 30 kilometres from his home in Iseo. The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced the result April 21 and provisionally suspended Gavazzi.

It was not Gavazzi's first time to be caught for cocaine. The 26-year-old has used it since he was a junior racer and tested positive in 2004, serving a subsequently 14-month ban and completing a rehabilitation programme.

"I lost my girlfriend, people dear to me, money... I did not take it to have a good life. No, I had a desire to escape, to isolate myself, manage the pressures and not think. At first, you feel important, great, as if you can conquer the world. But then the cocaine enters your head and eats at your brain."

Gavazzi says that he has been clean since 22 April and he has the help of mental coach, Omar Beltran. Beltran has helped Marco Pinotti and Noemi Cantele better their performances and achieve wins, but he is helping Gavazzi to beat a habit.

The CONI may take into consideration Gavazzi's rehabilitation and work with Beltran. He and his lawyer met with head prosecutor Ettore Torri and they tried to prove that Gavazzi did not intend to improve his performances.

Since turning professional in 2005, Gavazzi collected 22 wins, mostly in stage races. His last win came at the Settimana Lombarda, racing for Team Colnago-CSF.

"I always knew that I had not solved my problem. I would also lie to myself. Sometimes I would go months without using cocaine, but then...

"Now, I would like to return to race, but what counts is to kick this cocaine habit. It's nasty. I have to beat it."

Tom Boonen, former World Champion and three-time Paris-Roubaix winner, tested positive for cocaine last year. He only received a suspension from his team since the test was taken outside of a competition.

Gavazzi is trying to follow his dad's example. Pierino Gavazzi won 60 races, including the 1980 Milano-Sanremo.


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