CONI, the Italian national Olympic committee, has banned Colnago-CSF rider Mattia Gavazzi for two and a half years – reduced from the full penalty of a six-year ban due to the cyclist’s co-operation in its investigation – as a result of his positive test for cocaine in a doping control during the Settimana Lombarda in March 2010.
The 28-year-old’s former manager at Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli, Gianni Savio, whom Gavazzi claimed had supplied him with the drug, was cleared after the tribual ruled that the cyclist’s testimony on that issue was not credible.
The severity of the punishment reflects the fact that Gavazzi previously served a 14-month ban following a positive test for cocaine in 2004, when he was still an amateur. Having been suspended since his positive test two years ago, Gavazzi will be eligible to return to the sport on 30 September 2012 when his current ban ends.
The day after Gavazzi provided the sample that led to the positive test that is the subject of the latest ban, he won stage 2 of the Settimana Lombarda.
The rider has victories in races including the Tour de San Luis and Tour of Langkawi among his palmarès, while his father, Pierino, was a three-time Italian champion who won four stages of the Giro d’Italia during his career, as well as the 1980 Milan-San Remo.
While cocaine is a banned substance under the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List, that only applies if it is detected during an in-competition test, as happened with Gavazzi.
Belgium’s Tom Boonen has three times tested positive for cocaine from out-of-competition samples, the last of those shortly before the 2009 Tour de France which he was able to compete in after arguing his case before the courts.
In 2010, unions representing professional footballers and cricketers in England called on WADA to remove cocaine and marijuana from its Prohibited List for in-competition banned substances.
The Professional Footballers’ Association and Professional Cricketers’ Association argued that the emphasis should be on seeking to rehabilitate those using what are seen as recreational rather than performance-enhancing drugs, instead of punishing them.
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.