MILAN, (Reuters) – The International Cycling Union has requested disciplinary proceedings against last year’s Giro runner-up Franco Pellizotti of Italy after finding suspicious data in his biological passport, the UCI said yesterday.
The sport’s governing body has also asked for disciplinary procedures to be started against Spain’s Jesus Rosendo Prado and Slovenian Tadej Valjavec, 10th overall in the 2008 Tour de France.
“Disciplinary procedures have been requested against the… riders for apparent violation of the Anti-Doping Rules on the basis of the information provided by the blood profiles in their biological passports,” the UCI said in a statement.
Since January 2008, the UCI has collected blood samples from all professional riders to create a medical profile to be compared with data registered in doping tests.
Pellizotti, who also won the polka dot jersey for the best climber in last year’s Tour de France, is set to miss the Giro d’Italia starting in Amsterdam this Saturday.
“I believe he will miss the Giro,” Italian federation president (FCI) president Renato Di Rocco told Reuters.
Pellizotti’s team, Liquigas, had no comment on the matter.
Valjavec has been provisionally suspended by his AG2R-La Mondiale team and will also miss the Giro.
“He will not start the Giro on Saturday. He is provisionally suspended pending the Slovenian federation’s sanction. Then, he will be fired,” AG2R-La Mondiale manager Vincent Lavenu told Reuters.
Pellizotti came third in the 2009 Giro but was promoted to second after original runner-up Danilo Di Luca was suspended for two years after testing positive for the banned blood booster CERA during the race.
Cycling, especially in Italy, has been rocked by a long series of doping scandals in recent years.
“It’s a great shame. He represents our biggest team and it’s just a few days from the Giro,” Di Rocco added.
“But of course the Giro and cycling go on. There will be over 500 doping controls on the Giro. Let’s hope this is the last case but it certainly hurts cycling.”
Organisers of the Giro, the sport’s second-biggest stage race after the Tour de France, were hoping for a fresh start by starting the three-week race in the Netherlands.
The route then snakes around Italy but big names such as Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong have chosen not to compete.