Italian cyclist Alessandro Petacchi did not know he was being investigated for alleged doping practices prior to racing the Tour de France, the rider’s lawyer said Tuesday.
Petacchi, who is currently leading the race’s green jersey points competition, is reportedly being investigated in Italy for using illegal drugs prior to the event.
Petacchi’s lawyer Virginio Angelini said in a statement issued through his Lampre team that the Italian sprint star only learned of the probe on July 12.
As a result, Petacchi has been called to a hearing by the Padova prosecutor, but Angelini denied Petacchi knew of the summons before the start of the race.
“The Padova prosecutor invited M. Petacchi on July 12 (and not before the start of the Tour de France as has been claimed in error) to appear at a hearing after the Tour de France to answer questions which are related, and not to the current season,” said Angelini.
Lampre officials, who say learned of the summons through the media, said they would support Petacchi while awaiting “further details.”
Angelini said Petacchi is “ready to clarify the situation and to supply all the necessary evidence to show that he has nothing to do with this affair.”
On Tuesday the ANSA news agency, quoting informed sources, alleged that two banned substances were found at the Lampre rider’s home — PFC (Perfluorocarbon), an alternative to the banned blood booster EPO, and human serum albumin.
According to ANSA the inquiry began before Petacchi lined up for the start of this year’s Tour, in which he has won two stages. He is also leading the green jersey’s points competition with a two-point lead on Norwegian Thor Hushovd.
Besides Petacchi, the affair is said to center on two former teammates as well as two other amateur riders.
Petacchi, one of the most successful sprinters of his generation, was suspended for a year after the 2007 Tour of Italy for testing positive for excessive levels of the asthma drug salbutamol.