A 14-year-old cyclist in Italy is believed to be the youngest rider ever to have failed an anti-doping control, according to a report by the news agency, ANSA published by the Corriere dello Sport.
The teenager is said to have tested positive for the powerful anabolic agent Mesterolone following a regional race.
The unnamed youngster has been immediately suspended by the antidoping tribunal of the Italian national Olympic committee, CONI.
There have long been suspicions of some young riders in Italy and elsewhere using banned drugs to improve their performances as they try and build a career in cycling, often pushed to do so – and even given prohibited substances without their knowledge – by adults around them such as parents or coaches.
Riccardo Ricco, now serving a 12-year-ban, has been the subject of longstanding rumours that he was already doping in his teens, and in 2013 the magistrate Benedetto Roberti, who was leading an anti-doping investigation at the time, called for more protection to be given to junior riders.
Occasionally, evidence emerges that highlights the use of drugs at junior level.
In 2009, the Canadian cyclist Geneviève Jeanson admitted in a documentary on Radio-Canada that she had been taking EPO since she was aged 16.
Her victories during the time she was using the banned blood booster included the world junior road and time trial championships in 1999 and the 2000 Fleche Wallonne.
She was banned for two years in 2006 after testing positive for EPO and never raced again. Meanwhile, her doctor and coach both received lifetime bans in 2009.
In December 2015, 18-year-old British rider Gabriel Evans, a former Junior National 10-mile TT champion, admitted using EPO after the father of a team mate found a vial of the substance in his room during a training camp in France and alerted UK Anti-Doping.
Last November former Dutch pro Teo Muis was banned from involvement with cycling for life, reportedly because he had injected his teenage son, whom he coached, Nandrolone but told him it was a multi-vitamin injection.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.