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by Shane Stokes
September 17, 2014
He’s been sidelined for months since the news broke in June that he was facing likely disciplinary action over a positive test for high levels of salbutamol.
Despite that, double Giro stage winner Diego Ulissi returned to racing in the Coppa Bernocchi on Tuesday, finishing 22nd after helping Lampre-Merida team-mate Filippo Pozzato to second place.
However, hours later, his team confirmed that he had been sidelined once more after the UCI formally requested disciplinary proceedings be opened.
The governing body issued a statement Tuesday in relation to the matter.
“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has requested Swiss Cycling, National Federation which delivered the licence to the rider, to instigate disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Diego Ulissi,” it said.
“The charge ensues following the results management process according to which the UCI asserted that Mr. Ulissi has committed an anti-doping rule violation based on an adverse analytical finding of salbutamol (beta2-agonist / banned specified substance) in the sample collected in the scope of the 2014 Giro d’Italia on 21 May 2014.”
The UCI noted that its rules in this case are different to the situation with standard prohibited substances. It stated that adverse analytical findings for specified substances do not require mandatory provisional suspensions.
However Lampre-Merida has decided to act anyway, putting the rider on the sidelines again.
“Immediately after the first race in which Diego Ulissi has taken part after his forced stop, the UCI notified the cyclist his referral to the disciplinary commission of Swiss Cycling,” it explained.
“In the next weeks the rider and his team will finally have a final view about the long procedure concerning this topic.”
While the UCI’s rules would permit Ulissi to continue racing in the meantime, Lampre-Merida said that other regulations meant that this would not occur. “Respecting the internal health code of the team and the rules of the MPCC, with the presence of the referral Ulissi won’t take part in the next races.”
Ulissi took two stages in the Giro but withdrew from the race prior to stage 18 after becoming ill.
In June his team announced that an anti-doping control taken at the end of stage 11 to Savona revealed the presence of 1900 ng/ml of Salbutamol.
This was almost double the maximum limit of 1000 ng/ml permitted for those using an inhaler.
The team stated that Ulissi and the team doctor Carlo Guardascione had declared prior to the race that he would use the Ventolin inhaler during the race. According to Lampre Merida, two puffs lead to an equivalent amount of 100 ng of salbutamol.
“The use of Ventolin is permitted and was necessary because Ulissi was suffering from bronchospasm,” stated the team. “As usual, all previous assumptions of Ventolin had been correctly declared.”
The 24 year old Italian rider had a very impressive campaign in the Giro, winning stages five and eight and moving to sixth overall. He lost time on stage 11 and slipped down the general classification standings, but bounced back to take second in the Barolo time trial on stage twelve.
However he became ill and eventually withdrew. He went on to ride the Tour of Slovenia in June, netting third in the opening time trial, but then faced a long break from racing due to his positive test. He’s now back on the sidelines again and will likely remain that way until Swiss Cycling reaches a conclusion about his case.