Italian anti-doping prosecutors are seeking a life ban for Danilo di Luca, who tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test taken days before the start of this year’s Giro d’Italia. He also faces being stripped of his results in that race.
The former Vini Fantini-Selle Italia rider was sacked by his team when news of the positive test was announced with two stages remaining of the race, during which he had regularly figured in attacks, securing several top-ten stage placings.
The level of the sanction being sought by prosecutors from the anti-doping arm of the Italian national Olympic committee, CONI, reflects the fact that the 37-year-old, whose palmarès include victories in races such as the Giro di Lombardia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, has twice served bans in the past for anti-doping violations.
In 2007 Di Luca, then the reigning Giro d’Italia champion, received a three-month ban for associating with the physician Carlo Santuccione, the man at the centre of the long-running Oil for Drugs investigation. The rider was allowed to keep his Giro title.
Two years later, after finishing second in the Giro, a sample taken from Di Luca tested positive for CERA. He was stripped of that podium place, two stage wins and his victory in the points competition, and banned for two years.
Subsequently, that was reduced to nine months due to the assistance he gave Italian anti-doping authorities and he returned to racing with Katusha, with whom he raced the 2011 Giro.
He raced in 2012 for Acqua & Sapone before joining Vini Fantini-Selle Italia for 2013. Days after news broke of Di Luca’s positive test, team mate Mauro Santambrogio, who had won Stage 14 of this year’s race, also tested positive for EPO.
Santambrogio is still awaiting results of his B sample, and hit the headlines last week when, after more than four months of silence on Twitter, posted a message suggesting that he was contemplating ending his life.
He attributes his decision not to follow through on that threat to the outpouring of sympathy and support he received from the online community.
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.