Dr. Mario Zorzoli has been suspended by the world governing body of cycling from his position as the Scientific Advisor and UCI doctor.
The UCI took this dramatic step after allegations stemming from the anti-doping investigation into Dr. Geert Leinders who was handed a lifetime ban by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and Anti-Doping Denmark (ADD) and Anti-Doping Authority Netherlands (Doping autoriteit) for his role in systematic doping at the Rabobank team.
USADA, which worked on the Leinders case with anti-doping authorities in Denmark and the Netherlands, said Leinders was involved in doping with EPO, blood transfusions, Testosterone, insulin, DHEA, corticosteroids, and other substances. Leinders was sanctioned after a hearing that included presentation of eyewitness testimony, corroborating documentation, and an expert analysis of abnormal blood values of cyclists, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said.
The physician was hired by Team Sky in 2011 and 2012 on a freelance basis but has left the team. Leinders started working with Sky in extremis during the 2010 Vuelta a Espana. He is now prohibited from training or advising athletes and participating at any event sanctioned by USA Cycling, the International Cycling Union, or any other sports agency that follows the World Anti-Doping Agency codes.
Retired Danish professional bicycle racer Michael Rasmussen testified that Dr. Mario Zorzoli met with Dr. Geert Leinders and said that Rabobank was a team that had ‘butter on its head’ meaning that all the problems, doping related problems would slide off, according to USADA. In the full decision, USADA wrote that Leinders refers to Rasmussen as "the most protected rider in the race". It was also claimed by Rasmussen that Leinders advised him to use the steroid DHEA (didehydroepiandrosterone) after a recommendation from Zorzoli. Rasmussen accused Zorzoli, the former chief of the UCI medical commission, of protecting potential cheats and encouraging doping.
In a statement posted on its website, the UCI remarked it welcomes the decision of the panel of the American Arbitration Association North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (AAA) to impose a life-ban on Dr. Geert Leinders, of Belgium, for his doping violations committed while he was the Chief Team Doctor for the Rabobank professional cycling team. The world governing body of cycling added that it is aware that the reasoned decision includes allegations made against UCI Doctor and Scientific Advisor Dr. Mario Zorzoli. The UCI added it is now waiting to receive the full file to look closely into these allegations, and whilst this investigation is taking place, Dr Zorzoli will not be involved in any matters relating to anti-doping. No further comment will be made at this stage.
In 2006, the UCI briefly suspended Zorzoli for his role in the Lance Armstrong-L'Equipe affair. The cycling body suspended him after it was disclosed that Zorzoli supplied copies of medical records of Lance Armstrong to L'Equipe journalist Damien Ressiot. In June last year, Zorzoli made headlines again when it was confirmed that he had fast-tracked a therapeutic use exemption for Chris Froome of Team Sky at the Tour of Romandie.