Danilo Di Luca, the former Italian professional road racing cyclist who recently rode for Vini Fantini-Selle Italia, has been banned for life after his third doping offense. Luca, the winner of Giro d'Italia, now becomes one of the highest-profile riders to be kicked out of cycling after Lance Armstrong who was banned last year for using performance enhancing drugs.
The life ban verdict on Di Luca was imposed by the anti-doping court of Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). A CONI statement read that the national anti-doping tribunal has imposed a lifetime ban on Danilo Di Luca for his violation of Articles 2.1 and 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Agency code. It added that this takes effect from May 24, 2013, and annuls any competitive results Di Luca achieved after taking a biological test on April 29. It was also revealed that the tribunal has ordered Di Luca to pay the penalty of 35,000 euros [£29,100], as determined by Article 326 of the UCI Regulations, and to pay the costs of these proceedings, calculated to be 850 euros [£710] and added that the rider must also pay the costs of running the biological tests, calculated to be 3,150 Swiss Francs [£2,135].
The 37-year-old tested positive for the blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) in a surprise test in April, a few days before this year's Giro d'Italia. The rider had already served a ban of 15 months after he tested positive during the 2009 Giro for CERA, an advanced form of Erythropoietin. The cyclist was banned for three months after winning the 2007 Giro for making frequent visits to a banned physician, Italian doping doctor Carlo Santuccione, in the Oil for Drugs doping investigation.
During his 2007 Giro win, Di Luca after the Zoncolan stage reportedly recorded the hormone levels of a young child, a sign of the use of masking agents but the rider was later cleared for that offense with anti-doping officials of CONI admitting that there was not a sufficient degree of probability for a doping conviction. Di Luca was however stripped of his 2009 second-place finish at Giro.
After this positive test in April this year, Vini Fantini directeur sportif Luca Scinto confirmed the test results and said we gave Di Luca a second chance and the sponsors put their faith in him and this is how he pays us back. He also remarked it's crazy that a rider thinks they can get away with it like that.
The rider had acknowledged some months ago that he was now facing a lengthy ban and was not clear on whether or not he would look to stay involved with cycling in the future.
Danilo Di Luca was also fined 35,000 euros and his results since mid-April have been erased from the record books. He is also required to pay €850 for the costs of the proceedings and the costs of the lab analysis, which is 3,150 CHF. One of Italy's most successful cyclists of the past 15 years, Di Luca claimed victories in Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2007, Il Lombardia in 2001 and an Amstel Gold and La Fleche Wallonne double in 2005.
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