Lampre-Merida has revealed that Diego Ulissi, winner of two stages at last month’s Giro d’Italia, has been notified by the UCI of an adverse analytical finding for an excessive amount of the anti-asthma drug salbutamol during the race. Both the rider and his team have questioned the amount of the substance found.
The 24-year-old from Tuscany, who won the fifth and eighth stages of the three-week race, was found to have 1900 ng/ml of salbutamol in his urine, nearly twice the maximum permitted level of 1000 ng/ml.
The Italian WorldTour team pointed out that prior to the samples being taken un the test at the end of Stage 11 in Savona, the rider followed correct procedures in notifying the testers of the medication he had taken that day.
In a statement, it said: “It is important to point out that Diego Ulissi, accompanied by Dr. Carlo Guardascione (head team doctor) had declared in his statement taken prior to the anti-doping control, the assumption before the race of Ventolin (2 puffs, equivalent to 100 ng of salbutamol each) and paracetamol during the race, the latter given by the race doctor due to the crash which occurred during the stage in which he had been involved with many other athletes.
“The assumption of Ventolin is permitted and was necessary because Ulissi was suffering from bronchospasm,” which is often associated with asthma. “As usual, all previous assumptions of Ventolin had been correctly declared.”
Ulissi, who has been provisionally suspended from racing by his team in line with its own code of conduct and will also miss a training camp for the national team, has requested that his B sample be opened and analysed.
Lampre-Merida added: “Ulissi strongly rejects the presence of such a large amount of salbutamol and decided to make use of the possibility provided for by the WADA and UCI regulations to undergo a controlled [urine] excretion study in relation to the substance salbutamol.”
In May 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport handed a ban to Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi and stripped him of results including five Giro d’Italia stage wins after he tested positive for an excessive amount of salbutamol.
In its ruling, CAS acknowledged that Petacchi, who was permitted to take the medication, had not intended to cheat, but it held that he had failed to exercise “utmost caution” in exceeding the permitted dosage.
Its decision overturned a previous one from the Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping tribunal which had ruled that the presence of the substance was due to human error and Petacchi should not therefore be sanctioned.
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.