Danilo Di Luca has been banned from cycling for life following his positive test for EPO announced two days before the end of May’s Giro d’Italia, which resulted in the 2007 Giro champion’s immediate sacking by his Vini Fantini-Selle Italia team.
The 37-year-old, who has previously served two doping-related suspensions, has also been fined €35,000 by the disciplinary committee of Italy’s national Olympic committee, CONI, which confirmed the sanction in a brief statement issued this afternoon.
It also ordered him to pay €850 for the costs of its proceedings, plus 3,150 Swiss Francs relating to the costs of analysis and documentation of the samples taken from him in a random test on 29 April this year, days before the Giro d’Italia began in April.
Di Luca’s results from that date have been annulled. While he didn’t win any stages in the race, he did feature regularly in attacks and secured a number of top-ten placings.
After learning of his fate today, Di Luca, quoted on Gazzetta.it, said: “It was all already written. Clearly I have to pay for everyone else.”
When asked to describe how it felt to be the first Italian cyclist to receive a life ban for doping, he reflected: “I’ve been the first to do many things. Certainly, anyone who knows me knows that in sport I’ve won what I was able to win, I’ve never won a time trial at 60 kilometres an hour.”
Asked if he knew of someone who had, he replied cryptically, “Yes, and he’s still doing it.”
Di Luca and his lawyer, Ernesto Di Toni, are now reported to be considering whether to appeal against today’s decision.
The rider nicknamed the Killer from Spoltore – the latter being his home town in the Abbruzzo region – was first sanctioned in 2007, when he received a three-month ban for associating with Carlo Santuccione, the doctor at the centre of the Oil for Drugs investigation. Di Luca was allowed to keep the Giro title he had won earlier in the year.
In 2009, after finishing runner-up in the Giro and winning the points jersey, he was stripped of those results plus two stage wins after he tested positive for CERA, leading also to a two-year ban, later reduced to nine months after he co-operated with the authorities.
He returned to the sport with Katusha, racing the 2011 Giro with the Russian team, joining Acqua & Sapone for 2012 before switching to Vini Fantini-Selle Italia for the 2013 season.
Di Luca, who during his career also one major one-day races including the Giro di Lombardia and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, joins Lance Armstrong as one of only two Grand Tour winners to have been banned for life as a result of doping.
Unlike Armstrong, however, who was last year stripped of the seven Tour de France victories he had taken between 1999 and 2005, Di Luca’s name will continue to appear as the champion of the 2007 Giro d’Italia.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.