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by Shane Stokes
March 25, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
Slightly over two months after the UCI sidelined Dr. Mario Zorzoli from all matters connected to anti-doping, the governing body has now cleared him to resume his normal duties within the governing body.
In January the American Arbitration Association (AAA) released a report explaining why it had handed a lifetime ban to former Rabobank and Team Sky doctor Geert Leinders. In that report claims were made against Zorzoli, with former pro Michael Rasmussen claiming that the doctor had helped to protect riders and teams.
He said that after the UCI had raised issues in relation to his incriminating blood readings, that Leinders had met Zorzoli to discuss the issue. Rasmussen subsequently said that Leinders had told him that ‘Rabobank was a team that had “butter on its head”…meaning that all the doping related problems the team had would slide off. And he called me now the most protected rider in the race.”
The former Tour de France King of the Mountains also alleged that in either 2004 or 2005, he was told by Leinders that Zoroli had recommended that Leinders give Rabobank riders the banned substance DHEA because ‘all the other teams are doing it as well.’
USADA said that it had passed on the claims to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, but that commission faulted both Rasmussen’s claims plus their publication in its recent report.
“The CIRC considers it unacceptable and a severe breach of proper procedures that such serious accusations, based on double hearsay, were made public without the individual first being consulted and the allegations being fully investigated,” it stated.
“This is all the more disturbing since this accusation was completely immaterial to the case investigated. In addition, CIRC notes that several interviewees expressed their high regard for Mario Zorzoli, both for his scientific expertise and his honesty.”
The UCI statement released Tuesday refers to this report in explaining its decision to allow him to resume his full duties.
“Following some allegations concerning Dr Mario Zorzoli which arose around the case against Dr Geert Leinders, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) asked Dr Zorzoli not to work on anything related to anti-doping while those allegations were looked into,” it said.
“The Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC), whose mandate and terms of reference covered the period in question, reported that they found no evidence to support the allegations.
“Our review reached the same conclusion and therefore Dr Zorzoli was asked to resume all his normal duties as UCI Doctor and Scientific Advisor with immediate effect.”