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by Shane Stokes
May 21, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
One day after the Bardiani-CSF team won stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia via Nicola Boem, the anti-doping MPCC group has indicated that the squad broke its rules in the run up to the race.
The voluntary anti-doping movement comprises most of the WorldTour and Pro Continental teams in the sport. By joining they achieve a boost in their image due to their affiliation with the group, which imposes stricter anti-doping rules than the standard WADA Code.
Amongst its regulations are that teams don’t sign riders who have had doping bans for six months or more for another two years after that suspension ends.
Another is a requirement that teams rest any riders who have low cortisol levels. These are detected in health checks, and a substandard measurement can indicate health issues. They can also arise from the use of cortisone and corticoids.
According to the MPCC, a rider on the team’s lineup in the Giro should not have taken part in the event due to the team’s acceptance of the latter rule.
“Following reports in today’s press regarding team Bardiani-CSF currently racing in the Giro d’Italia, MPCC expressly points out that on Friday, May 9, the movement was informed by team Bardiani-CSF that one of its riders showed an abnormally low cortisol level.”
It said that on the Friday prior to the start of the race, the MPCC formally requested via the team’s president that it did not enter the rider into the race. Instead, it required that he be rested from competition for eight days after the date that the sample concerned was taken by the UCI, “in accordance with article 9 of MPCC regulations and its annex.”
However the team ignored this and entered the rider in the race. It is unclear who the rider concerned is, but the release of the news one day after Boem’s stage wins will – correctly or not – lead some to wonder if he is the rider concerned.
If that is not the case, the timing of the news leak is far from ideal.
The group has made clear it is not happy. “MPCC considered that the explanations provided by the team Bardiani-CSF were not sufficient to keep the rider in the race and immediately invited the team manager to attend the board of directors scheduled on June 8th in Lyon, in order to provide further explanation and allow the board to review this case.”
It added a reminder that on October 20 of last year, all of the doctors on teams signed up to the MPCC agreed to strictly enforce the cortisol rule.
It also noted that at the same annual meeting, there was an unanimous acceptance by team doctors that the number of cortisol tests should be increased.
A total of 263 such tests have been carried out since the start of 2015. Of those, 128 were conducted by the MPCC, while the UCI carried out 135 in the Giro d’Italia.
While the MPCC release doesn’t raise expulsion or suspension from the group as a possibility, this could quite feasibly become the case once the situation is considered.
Last December the Italian Neri Sottoli team was suspended. This occurred in the wake of positive tests by Mauro Santambrogio and Danilo di Luca in 2013 – while the team was titled Vini Fantini-Selle Italia – and Matteo Rabottini last August.
The MPCC said then that the team would be out of the group until at least October 2015. It is racing this year under the SouthEast title.
The Bardiani-CSF team is not the only squad with a rider redflagged in the pre-event tests. The LottoNL-Jumbo squad withdrew Kiwi rider George Bennett from the race due to his own low cortisol levels.