The UCI has asked for disciplinary procedures against three riders based on the blood profiles in their biological passports — among them Franco Pellizotti, second in last year’s Giro d’Italia and winner of the polka-dot jersey in the 2009 Tour de France.
The Liquigas-Doimo climbing specialist will not start this year’s Giro after the UCI alleged that a check of his so-called biological passport found “abnormal values,” according to the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
The other riders mentioned in a UCI communique are Tadej Valjavec (Ag2r-La Mondiale), eighth overall in last year’s Giro — previously expected to start this year, he was promptly sacked by his team — and Jesús Rosendo (Andalucia-Cajasur), whose teammate Manuel Vazquez was provisionally suspended in late April after testing positive for the blood booster EPO during an out-of-competition test in March. That, too, was a “targeted test … carried out on the basis of information contained in the rider’s biological passport,” the UCI announced at the time.
“The UCI emphasizes that these proceedings are being initiated as a result of the recommendations of the independent experts who were appointed when the biological passport program was launched,” the communiqué read.
“Each rider mentioned above shall be accorded the right to the presumption of innocence until a final decision has been made on this matter. Under the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the UCI is unable to provide any additional information at this time.”
Pellizotti originally finished third in the 2009 Giro behind winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank) but was elevated to second after runner-up Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) tested positive for CERA.
The 32-year-old Italian had been one of the favorites for the overall victory in this year’s Giro, which starts Saturday in Amsterdam. Riding for Liquigas since 2005, he has been a regular at the Italian national tour, making the top 10 five times — eighth in 2003 and 2006, ninth in 2007, fourth in 2008 and second in 2009.
Last year he won the short, tough Blockhaus stage, outclimbing Di Luca, Stefano Garzelli, Menchov and Ivan Basso.
Gazzetta dello Sport said Vincenzo Nibali, seventh in the last Tour, would replace Pellizotti on the Liquigas team for the Giro.
“Franco Pellizotti will not be able to participate in the next Giro due to irregular blood values in his biological passport,” Renato Di Rocco, president of the Italian cycling federation, told Agence France Presse.
“Franco must now justify these anomalies, but as yet there is no sanction against him.”
Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports that Pellizotti has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday in Milan with his Liquigas team physician, his lawyer and a biochemistry professor.