Danilo di Luca, banned for life last month following a positive doping control during the 2013 Giro d’Italia, says it is impossible to finish in the top ten of the race without using performance enhancing drugs – but Vincenzo Nibali, who won the race, says he believes Di Luca is deliberately exaggerating the issue with the aim of making money from his claims.
The 38-year-old former Vini Fantin rider Di Luca, who received the sanction because it was the third time he had been found guilty of a doping-related offence, will make the claim this evening in a pre-recorded interview on the Italia 1 satirical current affairs programme, Le Iene Show.
Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport has today published a transcript of Di Luca’s interview in which the 2004 Giro d’Italia winner talks about his own doping, talks about the use of EPO within cycling, and claims that races are bought and sold.
He also insists that only one in ten riders who take part in the Giro are clean. As for the others? “There are 10 per cent who aren’t interested in the Giro d’Italia in that period, who are preparing for other races and therefore don’t use doping.”
It’s put to Di Luca that all riders aiming for a decent performance in the Giro must therefore be using performance enhancing drugs.
He replies: “It is impossible to not make use of doping and arrive in the top ten of the Giro d’Italia.”
But Astana rider Nibali, currently riding in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, said he believes Di Luca’s comments are the ramblings of a desperate man.
He told the Gazzetta dello Sport: “For me Danilo is at the end of the road and doesn’t know what else to dream up to earn a bit of money,” he said.
“It pains me to say this because he was a great team mate.
“I can only thing the worst about it – that he’s become a bit damaged in the head.”
In his interview, Di Luca added that while it may be possible for cycling to become drug-free, legalising doping may be the better solution.
He didn’t see either happening, however, and in his opinion the sport “will go on as it’s always done; anyone who makes a mistake and gets caught will be banned.”
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.