Danilo Di Luca drew a two-year suspension on Monday for twice testing positive for recombinant EPO (CERA) during the 2009 Giro d’Italia.
The Italian Olympic committee (CONI) also levied a 280,000-euro fine against the winner of the 2007 Giro, who last year won two stages, wore the maglia rosa for eight days and finished second to Russian Denis Menchov.
Di Luca also must pay the costs of the analysis and counter-analysis of his samples.
Di Luca was defiant, proclaiming his innocence and pledging to appeal to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Even if this last resort fails, he vowed not to retire from the sport.
“This is not over. I can still to fight this and I’m going to. We will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS),” Di Luca said according to the ANSA news agency.
“For the moment all we have is this decision, no explanations. All I can do is reaffirm that I have never taken banned substances and that I was not expecting this suspension.”
Di Luca added that he was “optimistic … and confident” that CAS would return a decision in his favor.
“Even if CAS confirms the suspension, I will not hang up my bike. But I’m sure I will be back before two years,” he said.
In December 2009, CONI’s anti-doping prosecutor, Ettore Torri, requested a three-year suspension for the 34-year-old Italian — two years as an ordinary application of the sentence, plus one year for aggravating circumstances surrounding a previous doping suspension. Di Luca was suspended for three months for his involvement with the so-called “Oil for Drugs” scandal in 2007.
Di Luca’s latest suspension is effective as of July 22, 2009.
—Agence France Presse contributed to this story.