Movistar door not closed to Franco Pellizotti
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Monday, January 31, 2011

Movistar door not closed to Franco Pellizotti

by Ben Atkins at 6:41 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Spanish team willing to sign in-limbo Italian should he be cleared to race

franco pellizottiFranco Pellizotti has been out of racing action since a few days before last year’s Giro d’Italia, when he was withdrawn from competition due to apparent abnormal values on his biological passport. He was initially banned for two years but had the suspension overturned last October by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) because of the apparent uncertainty of the evidence.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has appealed the 33-year-old’s case to the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) though, and so he remains provisionally suspended.

At the end of 2010 Pellizotti was in negotiations with Movistar (then Caisse d’Epargne), which lacks a Grand Tour leader with Alejandro Valverde suspended, but because he was still under investigation the team was unable to sign him. This remains to be the case but Eusebio Unzué, Movistar’s general manager, maintains that the door is still open to the Italian.

“We’re interested in him because he has proved his qualities as a rider,” Unzué told Ciclism’Actu on the eve of the team’s presentation in Madrid. “But the most important thing right now is that he manages to stabilise the situation and be okay to return to competition without further complications.

“It remains an uncertainty at the moment,” he explained, “and until everything is completely resolved it’s really not possible to go any further with him in these conditions.”

Pellizotti was preparing to go one better than his 2009 second place in the Giro before he was pulled from competition last year, and was likely hoping to defend his 2009 polka-dot mountains jersey at the Tour de France. Should he be cleared to race he will doubtless be anxious to make up for lost time.

Pellizotti’s most immediate problem though, is that the CAS hearing is not due to take place until early March; the UCI is particularly keen to see the conviction stand as much of the credibility of its biological passport programme hangs on Pellizotti’s case.

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