|Pantani banned for eight months for doping by ICF||Tig|
Jun 17, 2002 2:54 PM
|I doubt his absence will make much of an impact. The insulin syringe was never absolutely proven to be his, but his past record had to hurt him. I wonder how he could have won the '98 Giro and TDF if he didn't use drugs as he claimed?
Pantani banned for eight months for doping
By Stephen Farrand
ROME (Reuters) - Former Tour de France champion Marco Pantani has been banned for eight months for using the prohibited substance insulin, a disciplinary commission of the Italian Cycling Federation said on Monday.
A syringe containing the drug was found in the hotel where Pantani stayed during last year's Giro d'Italia.
Pantani's lawyer Veniero Accreman said the Italian rider would appeal against the decision.
The commission announced that the ban would start immediately, but said the rider could ask for it to be made conditional after the first four months.
Pantani was also fined 3,000 Swiss francs and his Mercatone Uno team were fined 5,000 Swiss francs.
"Today's sentence means that the disciplinary commission believes there is enough evidence to show Pantani's responsibility," said Accreman.
"We believe there aren't enough elements to prove he is guilty and we will definitely appeal against the sentence.
"I want to underline that by only giving Pantani an eight-month ban the commission has favourably taken into account the circumstances of the case."
Pantani, 32, rides for the Mercatone Uno team and has been one of the most popular Italian cyclists for nearly a decade. In 1998 he won both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.
In the last three years his career has been overshadowed by a series of doping investigations, fanning speculation that his racing days may soon be over.
A specialist climber, he thrilled his fans with his spectacular attacks and became a national hero when he became the first Italian to win the Tour de France for 33 years.
But in the 1999 Giro he was disqualified while leading for having a high blood haematocrit value.
Pantani rode in this year's Giro but pulled out during the 16th stage when in 75th place, nearly an hour behind the overall leader, after complaining he was suffering from bronchitis.
Pantani has openly conceded that sponsors no longer want to be linked to his name.
Insulin is only permitted to treat athletes with diabetes. Italy's Olympic Committee (CONI) had asked the cycling federation to ban Pantani for four years.
He is not the only cyclist struggling with doping investigations. This year's Giro was once again tainted by the scandals when police raids on riders' hotel rooms uncovered large quantities of banned substances.
The winners of the race for the previous two years, Gilberto Simoni and Stefano Garzelli, both exited this year's Giro after positive dope tests.
The commission also upheld a six-month ban given to Italian cyclist Alberto Elli, who had appealed against an earlier decision.
But it decided not to ban Italian Fabio Sacchi after he proved that the drugs found in his home during a police search were not his.