World cycling’s governing body, the UCI, has announced that it has requested that disciplinary proceedings be opened against Lampre-ISD rider Leonardo Bertagnolli in connection with irregularities in his biological passport. The rider was not included in Lampre's recently announced squad for the Tour de France, which starts on Saturday. The rider has announced his retirement from the sport wih immediate effect, although according to the Gazzetta dello Sport, the timing is coincidental and Bertagnolli had been planning to finish his career after last weekend's Italian championships.
The 34-year-old from Trento, winner of stages in the 2004 Vuelta and 2009 Giro d’Italia, was already due to appear today alongside team mate Michele Scarponi and Movistar’s Giovanni Visconti before the Italian Olympic Committee today to answer questions in connection with the long-running Padova anti-doping enquiry.
It is not clear whether today’s announcement by the UCI is connected to that investigation, with the summoning of Scarponi, Visconti and Bertagnolli to the hearing planned for today - put back, at least in Scarponi's case, to next Wednesday 4 July - believed to be linked to suspected dealings with the sports doctor Michele Ferrari; riders registered with the Italian cycling federation, the FCI, are banned from associating with Ferrari, with a potential six-month ban for those who do so.
The Gazzetta dello Sport had reported this week that Bertagnolli had agreed with Lampre-ISD that this year would be his last as a rider and that he always planned to retire immediately after the Italian national championships, held last weekend, and where the road race was won by Franco Pellizotti, who returned from a two-year ban imposed as a result of biological passport irreguralities only last month.
In a statement released this afternoon, the UCI said: “After having informed all the parties concerned (rider, National Federation, team, National Anti-Doping Organisation and the World Anti-Doping Agency), the International Cycling Union (UCI) announces that a disciplinary procedure has been requested against the Italian rider Leonardo Bertagnolli for apparent violation of the Anti-Doping Rules on the basis of the information provided by the blood profile in his biological passport.
It added: “The rider shall be accorded the right to the presumption of innocence until a final decision has been made on this matter. Under the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the UCI is unable to provide any additional information at this time.”
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.