Fresh court appearances and a ban in two doping scandals

Tour de France cyclist’s “moment of weakness” earns him a two-year ban while a Spanish court could recall witnesses in Operation Puerto probe.

by Rebecca McIlhone   January 28, 2009  

Syringe

ITALIAN cyclist Leonardo Piepoli has been handed an immediate ban after testing positive for a banned substance at last year’s Tour de France.

The Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping tribunal said the two-year ban will end on January 25, 2011.

Piepoli, who won the 10th stage of the Tour de France, tested positive on July 4 and July 15 for CERA, an advanced version of the endurance-enhancing hormone EPO, according to the Associated Press.

The rider said earlier this month that he had engaged in doping in a "moment of weakness." He called his behavior "unjustifiable" and urged other cyclists not to cheat.

Meanwhile in Spain, some of the world’s top cyclists could face further court appearances in connection with the freshly reopened Operation Puerto doping probe.

Spanish sport minister Jaime Lissavetzky said this week the third review of the case would include “oral testimony,” also according to the Associated Press.

A Spanish court recently decided to reopen the investigation which has rocked the cycling world since the blood doping ring was discovered in May 2006.

More than 50 cyclists were originally implicated and earlier this month, a Madrid provincial court revoked the decision to shelve the case because “evidence exists that a crime was committed against public health.”