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Wed Apr 16 07:23:48 SAST 2014

Pozzato labels doping ban a 'farce'

Sapa-AFP | 11 September, 2012 17:400 Comments
Filippo Pozzato of Farnese Vini Selle Italia Team during the stage seven of the 2012 Tirreno-Adriatico on March 13, 2012 in San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy
Image by: Giuseppe Bellini/ / Getty Images

Former Milan-San Remo champion Filippo Pozzato has hit out after a three-month doping ban, which already ended his Olympic dreams, dashed his world championship hopes on Tuesday.

“Anyone who knows anything about this would agree it’s a farce,” said the 30-year-old Italian, a former Tour de France stage winner who was once considered one of the brightest hopes of his generation.

Pozzato had recently been linked to the controversial sports doctor Michele Ferrari, a notorious figure in cycling who previously had links with other top cyclists including controversial American Lance Armstrong.

He admitted in January he used to consult Ferrari, who became famous in the 1990s for claiming the banned blood booster EPO was “no more harmful than orange juice”, which effectively ruled Pozzato out of the Olympics.

Now, he has been left off Italy’s squad for the September 15-23 worlds in the Netherlands.

A statement on the website of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) said: “In the disciplinary proceedings against Filippo Pozzato, the National Anti-Doping Tribunal ... has handed down a three-month ban.” 

It added that the ban was backdated “from 19 June 2012 (date of notification) and ends September 18, 2012” and would pay “the costs of the proceedings, calculated at 2,000 euros, and a fine equal to 10,000 euros.”  Pozzato’s admission that he had received training programmes from Ferrari from 2005 to 2009 ended his Olympic hopes.

Instead of going to London, he went to Kenya where he carried out voluntary work at the invitation of an Italian priest in a bid to “get away from it all”.

The Italian has never been banned for doping, and after being left out of Italy’s Olympic squad said: “My biological passport could be an example for many. I told CONI everything.”  After being omitted from the Squadra Azzurra for the road worlds, Pozzato, when asked how much backing he had received, took a swipe at the attitude of his professional and national team.

“Up to a certain point... but no one has the balls to tell it like it is. They’re all afraid, waiting to see what happens and then in the end it’s the athletes who pay, and in this case unfairly,” he said according to ANSA.

“I have always stated that I went to see Ferrari, there was nothing to hide.” 

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