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Androni Giocattoli boss: No more ex-dopers on my team

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Dec. 4, 2013
Michele Scarponi was one of several high-profile riders given a second chance on Androni Giocattoli after serving a doping ban. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

No more second chances for ex-dopers, at least not anymore with Gianni Savio.

Savio, the charismatic boss of Androni Giocattoli, told VeloNews he has stopped hiring riders coming off racing bans.

Why? Because he says the peloton’s changed so much that riders who cheat today do not deserve a second opportunity.

“It’s true, I’ve given a second chance to riders with doping bans. Now I have changed that policy,” Savio told VeloNews in a phone interview. “I’ve decided because cycling has changed so much, anyone who now falls in with problems with doping, they do not deserve a second opportunity.”

The 65-year-old Savio has received his fair share of flack over the years by hiring high-profile riders coming off racing bans.

Riders as Davide Rebellin, Danilo Hondo, Franco Pellizotti, Michele Scarponi, and Emanuele Sella, all riders who served some sort of doping sanction, found refuge in Savio’s Pro Continental team.

Savio admitted that he could sign the riders on a discounted price, pointing out that his team budget is only 2.5 million euros per year, but said his primary motivation was he believed riders should be given a second chance. Or at least, he used to believe that.

“These riders recognized their errors, and they learned from their mistakes,” Savio continued. “All of these riders now are doing things in the correct way, and they have not repeated the same mistakes.”

Savio rationalized his former policy by pointing out what he described as hypocrisy that was rife the peloton.

“There was a lot of hypocrisy. Teams would say one thing, and then they would do something else. And if a rider was caught, they didn’t want to know anything about them anymore,” he said. “I don’t want to say names, but there were many big teams who would talk about the fight against doping, but on the inside, they were very big dopers.”

The veteran Italian manager now insists that a major overhaul within the peloton has created a new reality, where he believes the majority of teams are promoting clean racing and encouraging their riders not to dope.

“Today is very different than in the past,” Savio said. “There were riders who would test positive, and others who did not, when everyone knows they were doing the same thing. In cycling today, the situation has changed dramatically. One cannot say that doping is over, but the majority of the peloton is clean. Today I do not believe it is appropriate to give riders a second chance.”

Savio, who insists his team was always on the straight and narrow, said the introduction of the biological passport was an important milestone in helping to clean up the sport.

Not only is the passport used by anti-doping authorities to monitor an athlete’s indicators for target testing and to impose disciplinary sanctions, it is also an invaluable tool for teams.

Teams also have access to a rider’s biological passport data, something — in theory — that can be used to weed out would-be dopers.

“We are against the idea of winning at any cost. We want to win fair. We want to follow the biological passport,” he continued. “And I think most teams now agree with that.”

Androni Giocattoli recently wrapped up its preseason training camp, and will debut at Argentina’s Tour de San Luís in January.

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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