VAL MARTELLO, Italy (AFP) — Giro d’Italia director Michele Acquarone on Friday described the case of Italian rider Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), whose positive EPO test was revealed earlier in the day, as “a case of dependency.”
“A rider who looks me in the eyes and told me, ‘I made a mistake,’ I believe,” said Acquarone. “But when he [uses] again, it feels to me a case of addiction. It’s a man who needs help.”
Di Luca tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition control before the Giro. The Italian was previously banned when he tested positive for EPO CERA in 2009. Di Luca only signed a 2013 contract in late April and joined Vini Fantini in the Giro, where he attacked but failed to win a stage.
“This is stupid on his part not to have realized that the music has changed,” said Acquarone. “We are dealing with an old rider who has not understood that the cycling world is not the same.”
Di Luca, winner of the 2007 Giro, is 37 years old. He faced doping suspicion during his 2007 victory, when test results showed abnormally low hormone levels, and was suspended for three months later in the year over his involvement in the Oil for Drugs doping inquiry. His failed test for EPO CERA during the 2009 Giro resulted in a two-year ban.
Acquarone said that he did not regret the invitation of the Vini Fantini team, which he justified by the presence riders such as Italian Stefano Garzelli, Matteo Rabottini, and Oscar Gatto.
Acquarone did not rule out the possibility of requesting damages from Di Luca.
“All in good time. We will see later, after arrival Sunday at Brescia. On May 27, we will study the consequences,” he said.