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Responding two weeks after the MPCC anti doping movement summoned the team manager to a meeting of the board of directors scheduled for June 8th, the Bardiani-CSF team has refused to attend and has said that it plans to leave the group.
On May 20 the MPCC made a public declaration about the team, saying that it had defied the regulations it had agreed to in joining the organisation. It was referring specifically to the rule about resting riders with abnormal cortisol values.
The MPCC statement came one day after Nicola Boem’s win on stage ten of the Giro, and it was strong in tone.
“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 added 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, but rather rested him from competition for eight days “in accordance with article 9 of MPCC regulations and its annex.”
However the team ignored this instruction and entered the rider in the race. It was unclear who the rider concerned was, but the release of the news one day after Boem’s stage wins led some to wonder if he was the rider concerned.
Low cortisol levels can be a sign of a health issue, but can also come from the use of corticoids. The MPCC puts severe limitations on the use of the latter, both because of the possibility of detrimental health effects and also because they can be performance enhancing.
Responding belatedly to that MPCC release, the Italian squad admitted mistakes but was also highly critical of the organisation.
“We confirm that for the case in question we have made an error of interpretation of the regulation. But the rider had no responsibility in the case and therefore to not start in the Giro d’Italia would be penalizing him through no fault of his own and it would have overly affected his future career,” wrote the team manager Bruno Reverberi.
“We want to emphasize here that the aforementioned runner started in the first stage of the Tour of Italy on May 9 with normal values of cortisol, as per report of the analysis carried out by our doctor.
“Instead, we are very saddened by how this thing was handled by you, making us look like a doped team.”
However, even if the rider’s levels were back to normal by the race start, the MPCC rules are clear that an eight day rest is compulsory once low levels have been detected.
Even if the team committed an error, Reverberi expressed his anger at the MPCC over the statement it released the day after Boem’s win. He said that timing was one which set the press up to report on the story in a certain way. “What is most ‘serious’ is that the official statement was issued by you with the result that all the press has created a media hype as if it were a case of doping.
“The statement, in our opinion, was entirely inappropriate, both in the method and its timing, because it did not solve anything and did not give our team a way to justify and clarify its position. In doing so you have condemned us even before hearing our defense.
“Therefore we feel our participation in the next meeting on June 8 is useless.”
Reverberi ended his statement by pointing out that the team was one of the first to join the organisation. He feels hard done by. “The MPCC conduct towards us, a team that does not have and will never have in its ranks riders who have involvement with doping, is totally wrong.
“Therefore, as a case like ours as mentioned above is unduly damaging to the image of our sponsors and the team itself, we inform you that as of today our team does not believe in the project of the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Credible (MPCC) and so unquestionably cancels its membership.”
In walking away, Bardiani-CSF joins the Lampre-Merida team which withdrew in order to be able to take on Diego Ulissi once again. He was given a nine month ban last season after exceeding the permitted Salbutamol level during the Giro d’Italia.
Under MPCC rules any rider with a ban of more than six months cannot be taken on by a MPCC team for an additional two years. Lampre-Merida said that the employment contract it had with Ulissi trumped the MPCC rules and that it would walk away as a result.