Petacchi interviewed by police over doping issue, but refuses to talk
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Petacchi interviewed by police over doping issue, but refuses to talk

by Conal Andrews at 11:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Maillot Vert exercises right to silence

Alessandro PetacchiTour de France Green Jersey winner Alessandro Petacchi was interviewed this morning by Italian drug police, but refused to talk to them about allegations of blood doping.

According to his lawyer Virginio Angelini, the 36 year old decided to say nothing. “He wanted to speak but I preferred that he kept the right to remain silent,” Angelini said, according to Eurosport.

La Gazzetta Dello Sport elaborated on the reasons for this. “The accusations are too general so we exercised the option not to answer,” Angelini told the Italian paper. “That’s not unusual, it is a normal defence strategy.”

However staying silent could raise further questions about the charges facing the Lampre-Farnese Vini rider. He previously served a one-year doping ban for the overuse of Salbutamol, an anabolic agent found in his inhaler. Petacchi had a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for the product, but crossed the legally-allowed threshold and was suspended as a result.

The latest accusations are far more serious, relating to the charge of blood doping. They are linked to an ongoing investigation into doping networks, and led to police raids on his house in April. He has been accused by the prosecutor of Padua of using the blood booster PFCs (perfluorocarbon) , which has an EPO-like effect, plus human albumin.

His French and Lampre team-mate Lorenzo Bernucci similarly refused to speak to police today. His house was also raided this spring, and investigators reportedly found albumin plus the weight-loss drug called Sibutramine. Ironically, he tested positive for the latter substance in 2007 while with the T-Mobile team.

Petacchi’s non-cooperation contradicts what was said during the Tour de France. His Lampre-Farnese Vini team issued a statement then in which it said that he would fully assist police with their enquiries.

“With a serene mood, Alessandro Petacchi has already given, via his lawyer, his total availability with the full aim to clarify his condition,” it said in a press release. “He's sure he'll be able to prove his complete non-involvement in the event.”

The reasons for his silence today are not known.

Petacchi is one of the most successful of the current batch of riders, having won a total of 46 stage victories in the Tours of France, Spain and Italy. He has also grabbed victory in Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Tours.

The Ligurian rider has already served a one year ban for his earlier doping issues. If he is found guilty and sanctioned for blood doping, it’s quite possible that he would receive a ban longer than the standard 24 months.


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