Lampre-Merida insists it hasn’t violated MPCC rules with retention of Ulissi

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Responding to Thursday’s MPCC statement which referred to its rule about not signing riders with bans of six months or longer plus the way that statement was interpreted, Diego Ulissi’s Lampre-Merida team has insisted it has done nothing wrong.

“After having read today’s press release from MPCC after the Board of Directors meeting which was held on the 11th of February 2015 and with this the consequences which were reported and valuated by the various media, the team expresses its dissatisfaction with the way in which the press release was reported,” it said.

“It is not acceptable that this type of message is communicated in this way. In other words, that the team is under observation for the announcement of Ulissi returning to compete, over and above this the team has never received any direct contact from the organization.”

Last June the team announced that a medical control on the rider carried out at the end of stage 11 of last year’s Giro d’Italia had 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.

As a result Ulissi faced a disciplinary hearing and a possible suspension. On January 19 the Swiss Olympic Association handed him a partially-backdated nine month ban. That suspension is due to end on March 28.

According to his team, that association concluded that his excessive salbutamol levels were not a deliberate attempt to cheat.

The MPCC has clear rules about the employment of riders who have been suspended in relation to doping matters.

“MPCC is once again proud to say all its members respected the movement’s core regulation on a voluntary basis,” it stated in Thursday’s release, “particularly the self-suspension principle such as the implementation of article four which dictates team members ‘not to hire – within the two years following the suspension – riders found guilty of anti-doping rules violation and then suspended for at least six months by their national/international associations.’

It then immediately referred to the Italian rider’s case.

“On this matter, in the next days, MPCC is waiting for the position of Lampre-Merida about the team’s press release announcing Diego Ulissi’s come back on the next Vuelta al Pais Vasco.”

Lampre-Merida had said earlier this week that he would return to action with the team in that race.

In its statement today, the squad maintains it has done nothing wrong.

“Ulissi returning to compete in the team fully respects the MPCC rules and regulations, namely the article four which is mentioned in the press release,” it states.

“This rule is in fact applicable to the hiring of new riders: as Ulissi already obtains a contract with the team, therefore this rule does not apply to his case and for this we don’t comprehend the necessity to clarify our position.”

It ended its communication with the following comment: “Once again the team has respected the rules and regulations of the MPCC, as we have always done in the past, strictly applying all the requests even though various situations have been to our disadvantage.”

The latter statement presumably refers to the inability of Chris Horner to defend his 2013 Vuelta a España title last year when the MPCC declared that his cortisol levels were too low.

It has a regulation that riders in such a position cannot race. The team said that Horner had been prescribed medication containing cortisone in order to try to recover from bronchitis.

The use of cortisone can suppress cortisol levels.

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