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2004 Giro winner now banned for life speaks on TV - but current champion Nibali says he's ill in the head...

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.

20 comments

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hectorhtaylor [68 posts] 2 years ago
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Tsk. He almost makes Armstrong seem like a nice chap. Dragging the whole sport down with you is sour grapes of the worst kind. No one would condone doping and he may have a point but we didn't hear him complaining until he (quite rightly) got dumped. If he had finished with the red lantern every race and dobbed the miscreants in he would be a hero. As it is he's just a spoiled brat.

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s_lim [177 posts] 2 years ago
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He was obviously crap at the old doping, given that he got caught 3 times. However, he's clearly qualified to discuss it, given his history.

It would appear to me that omerta is alive and well; last year you had a few voices of dissent from the peleton re: Vini Fantini - Giro / Sayar - Tour of Turkey, however, VF were a Pro Conti team, and Sayar was from Torku Sekerspor, a conti-level team; not one of the big boys. Not too many speaking out from the peleton about Mick Rogers' clenbuterol finding, or JTL's blood values. I don't think pro-cycling is as clean as it's painting itself.

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AlexStriplight [75 posts] 2 years ago
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Wow. Di Luca is as dirty as they come and should never have been allowed back the first time. If he has evidence then he should come out with it. Although I liked Talansky's response to his claims best - "I feel genuine hatred towards Di Luca. He’s a worthless lying scumbag making false statements that hurt the sport I love."
As with Riccardo Ricco good riddance to bad rubbish.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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1 in 10 may be around the right figure for doping, but around 1 in 10 of his statements is about the right figure for truth aswell.

Between Di Luca, Armstrong and a few others, I think doping could be stamped out, but the UCI are not interested in that. Infact their rules don't even allow them to do much, they must rely on the team pulling that rider and races not involving the teams.

Just look at what's happen with AG2R vs Yellow Fluro, one doesn't get into races and one is there....

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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AlexStriplight wrote:

Although I liked Talansky's response to his claims best - "I feel genuine hatred towards Di Luca. He’s a worthless lying scumbag making false statements that hurt the sport I love."

Talansky can get off his moral F***ing high horse...He rides in a team with Danielson and Hesjedal, previously also with Vande Velde and Rasmussen....

So he's a fine one to show "hatred" towards another doper....

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mrmo [2075 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

So he's a fine one to show "hatred" towards another doper....

From experience, the most anti smoker are ex smoker!

Personal opinion 100% of the pro riders are sailing close to the wind.

But I don't think it is as bad as it was. I also think anyone who gets caught in the season for EPO is an idiot. But I do think the UCI needs to seriously consider the Clenbuterol, food contamination is an issue, whether the riders who have been caught are guilty or not of doping? All I will say, can you with 100% confidence say, in the light of the horse meat issue, that you have never eaten anything that might be contaminated? http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/horse-racing/25211486

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 2 years ago
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When he says 1 in 10, does he mean today or in his time ? I think this makes a big difference, as I would agree with him if he was referring to a few years ago as most of the top GC riders in the peleton were taking drugs, it would been impossible to win drug free.

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fatty [77 posts] 2 years ago
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I thought he was referring to now or when he was booted out, i.e recently - it's equally as valid as if it were years ago, arguably. I think/hope the peleton might be slightly better these days though, but I'm certainly not convinced it's particularly clean. 1998 Festina etc... everything was promised to be clean after that but it was just as bad and probably even worse.

Whether Di Luca is 'messed up in the head' or not, the fact that he's willing to spout about it is better than the old days when he would have kept quiet to maintain the silence and protect doping culture. He got caught and is pissed off other people he knows haven't got caught, maybe. So what if he's bitter about it and he exposes the reality.

As an aside, given that doping is most beneficial when training prior to a race, could it not be possible to do the drug testing in advance of a major event. E.g. If a GC contender is entered for a race such as the TdF, then make it a condition of entry that he supplies a clean test result 8 weeks prior to the event (or whatever the ideal doping window is)?

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mrmo [2075 posts] 2 years ago
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fatty wrote:

As an aside, given that doping is most beneficial when training prior to a race, could it not be possible to do the drug testing in advance of a major event. E.g. If a GC contender is entered for a race such as the TdF, then make it a condition of entry that he supplies a clean test result 8 weeks prior to the event (or whatever the ideal doping window is)?

They do out of comp tests, they are also obliged to declare their whereabouts

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Colin Peyresourde [1724 posts] 2 years ago
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Well I think 1 in 10 might be a generous number. 1 in a 100 might be there. I'll keep saying it because it's true, dopers don't dope to come second - why would you bother cheating if it didn't get you anywhere. But it is not just cycling as we know.

I think there is something in what Mr Mo says - the doping is not quite so off the hook as it was in the days of Mr Fifty Percent, but the reality is that the dosage is lower, and more regular. That keeps your blood values fairly even.

The difference these days is that the doping is probably very systematic and calculated. The more money and effort you can put in to get the mechanics of it right the off you are.

But, I don't think this takes it all away from the pros - it just means that money brings winners more than natural gifts. You still have to train and train hard - the difference is both the ability that athletes have now to suffer heavy training loads and perform at their peak for longer. You see this in all areas of sport. But in cycling it means the climbers are time-trialists, when they never used to be.

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Bagpuss [99 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

Just look at what's happen with AG2R vs Yellow Fluro, one doesn't get into races and one is there....

But this is more to do with one being an Italian team on Italian bikes with Italian sponsors in an Italian race V any other team that isn't Italian. Nothing to do with doping per se but sponsorship and a TV audience that identify with those sponsors.

Of course doping and results from doping lead to money but I don't think that's the point here. Its economics and national identity.

Di Luca, without doubt is a first class idiot who thinks he is important.

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giobox [356 posts] 2 years ago
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I think the only real change is that the teams now want nothing to do with it. Whilst riders of Lance's generation enjoyed team sanctioned doping programs, today's doper will likely be working alone, with private doctors, the internet and unscrupulous online pharmaceutical vendors.

The internet has arguably democratised doping - in '99 you needed big cash to buy the top doping doctors like Del Moral and Ferrari. Nowadays all the knowledge to run your own pretty sophisticated private doping program is easy to get and the substances easy to buy, and all out-with the knowledge of the team. I suspect this might well be what happened with Tiernan-Locke at sky.

Whilst I think much of this interview is Di Luca talking nonsense, I can't help but feel he is right to argue that doping has just moved from the team to the individual working in private.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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Bagpuss wrote:
Gkam84 wrote:

Just look at what's happen with AG2R vs Yellow Fluro, one doesn't get into races and one is there....

But this is more to do with one being an Italian team on Italian bikes with Italian sponsors in an Italian race V any other team that isn't Italian. Nothing to do with doping per se but sponsorship and a TV audience that identify with those sponsors.

Nothing to do with that, I'm talking about the code which sets out, they should not be racing for X amount of days after having a doper on their squad...but AG2R haven't withdrawn from anything

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fatty [77 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

They do out of comp tests, they are also obliged to declare their whereabouts

I realise that, but are the tests specifically targeted at a time frame which is the peak moment of use/benefit for PEDs. They won't be on PEDs all the time, just when they use them to build up for a key event. More focus of out of competition testing might help (but WADA may have this focus already...?).

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beej.a [40 posts] 2 years ago
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IMHO Di Luca has lost the plot. Look what happened with Santambrogio when he got caught (Goodbye world tweet). I'm not taking his side because I believe in "do the crime pay the time" but to think of having every thing you live for and love (bike racing) pulled out from under you in the blink of an eye is a pretty unsettling feeling and would cause anybody to act little bit irrational. He deserves to be caught (its happened 2 times before... IDIOT! *face palm*) and I'm glad that this has happened! I think the only unlucky instance in this whole saga is the fact that he was approached by La Gazzetta in his present, fragile state of mind.

I personally can't wait to see his next move and watch this train wreck situation unfold

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Grizzerly [298 posts] 2 years ago
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I suspect he means that he could only beat one in ten riders if he didn't do dope. It's not that all riders dope, it's just that Di Luca was a crap rider

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peterdmadden [4 posts] 2 years ago
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If we assume that doping is rife in all sports, but cycling has started to do something about it (if by the wider community not so much the UCI) then we can assume that PHD's are fairly easy to come by therefore the chances are that people will continue to do so.

I don't take this idealist approach that only winners dope, doping might make the difference between being on a team or not being on a team. I also think that doping covers all manner of sins a doper might be someone that takes an illegal supplement to speed up injury recovery etc or it might be someone like lance armstrong who did everything and anything to get to the top.

But whilst the UCI seem more interested in reputation safe guarding then genuinely going after dopers and getting clean racing, dopers will always remain. thus to say thou the UCI is doing a lot more than sports such as NFL, Rugby, etc.

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Simmo72 [603 posts] 2 years ago
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My new year resolution prevents me from presenting my opinion on doping articles but as this only applies to the subject of doping itself, I can still state that Di Luca is a desperate twat.

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andyp [1448 posts] 2 years ago
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'IMHO Di Luca has lost the plot'
To be fair, when two of last year's three grand tours looked like they were straight out of Armstrong's era, he's probably got a point.

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Kadenz [84 posts] 2 years ago
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Everyone's doping because 'nobody dopes to come second'. Really? Haven't they noticed that only one cyclist comes first?