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CONI: Piepoli doped at the Tour

By Agence France Presse

Piepoli apparently had more than Ricco's help when he won the 10th stage of the Tour.
Piepoli apparently had more than Ricco’s help when he won the 10th stage of the Tour.

Photo: Graham Watson

Former Saunier Duval climber Leonardo Piepoli is facing a ban from the sport after the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) announced Monday he had tested positive for banned substances twice at this year’s Tour de France.

Piepoli, who won a stage and helped former Saunier Duval teammate Riccardo Ricco win two stages at the race, will now come before a CONI commission on Friday in connection with the failed tests on July 4 and 15.

Although the substance was not revealed by CONI, Italian news agency ANSA said Piepoli tested positive for a new variant of the banned blood-booster EPO (erythropoietin) called CERA.

Despite an earlier perception that it was difficult to detect, Ricco tested positive for CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator) from a sample taken at the race’s fourth stage and has since been banned two years.

France’s national anti-doping agency (AFLD) has since July pioneered a new blood test for CERA and is currently retroactively testing blood samples of riders during the 2008 race.

Despite not testing positive at the race, the 37-year-old Piepoli was sacked in the wake of Saunier Duval being thrown off the Tour de France – because of the scandal surrounding Ricco – due to doping suspicions.

At an anti-doping hearing on July 31, Piepoli, who won the 10th stage to Hautacam in the Pyrenees, denied any links to doping.