Bardiani riders Pirazzi and Ruffoni test positive on eve of Giro d’Italia

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Italian wildcard team Bardiani-CSF faces an uncertainty over its participation in the Giro d’Italia after two of its riders provided positive A samples in pre race checks. Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni have been pinpointed with traces of GH-Releasing Peptides in their systems, according to the UCI.

Pirazzi won the mountains classification in the 2013 Giro d’Italia, and also took a stage in 2014. He was 18th overall last season. Ruffoni is four years younger at 26, and is a sprinter. He took two stages plus the points classification in the recent Tour of Croatia.

The team is composed entirely of Italian riders and secured an invite to the Giro by virtue of its win in last year’s Italian Cup competition.

The anti-doping tests were conducted by the UCI out of competition. Both riders face possible dismissal from the team.

The team issued a statement shortly after the news broke, saying both riders had been sent home, and would be dismissed if the B samples confirm the violation.

“Team Bardiani-CSF state the intention to immediately throw out both the riders from the Giro d’Italia squad and to suspend from all the activity of the team, according to UCI regulations,” the statement read. “In case the B samples will confirm the violation, the team will immediately proceed with layoff, as provided for by internal regulations, signed by each riders at the beginning of the season, and will act to protect its image and their sponsors.”

Team managers Bruno and Roberto Reverberi added, “We’re absolutely astounded by the news. We will wait the results of further analysis and we will reaffirm with determination the intention to protect the values of our sport project.”

The UCI also issued a statement: “The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that it has notified Italian riders Nicola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) of GH-Releasing Peptides (GHRPs) in samples collected in the scope of out-of-competition controls on 25 and 26 April 2017 respectively.

“The riders have the right to request and attend the analysis of the B sample. In accordance with UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the riders have been provisionally suspended until the adjudication of the respective affair.”

GHRPs are classified as peptide hormones, growth factors, related substances and mimetics on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s 2017 Prohibited List.

Perhaps more significantly, the outfit may find itself shunted out of the race before it even begins. Under UCI rules, two positives from the same team could earn it a suspension.

“These constitute the first and second AAFs for members of the UCI Professional Continental Team Bardiani CSF within a twelve-month period,” the UCI states. “Therefore, article 7.12.1 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules providing for the suspension of the team from 15 days to 45 days will be applied.

“The UCI will refer the matter to the Disciplinary Commission which will render a decision against the team in due course.”

Giro organisers also issued a statement, saying the race would wait for the B samples to come back before taking action, meaning the team would almost certainly start the race Friday.

“Following the provisional suspension of Nicola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi of the Bardiani CSF team by the UCI, the Giro d’Italia race direction reaffirms its full support of the CADF (Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation) in the fight against doping in all its aspects and forms,” the statement read. “While awaiting the B-sample examinations which will determine the outcome, the Giro d’Italia’s race direction and RCS Sport reserves the right to take any appropriate measure to protect the image and the name of the Giro d’Italia.”

In previous doping cases in Grand Tours, the teams of affected riders have been ‘invited’ to exit those races in order to limit the damage to the image of the sport and the event.

One example is the Astana team’s withdrawal from the 2007 Tour de France after Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for a blood transfusion. The Cofidis squad also bowed to pressure to leave the race after Christian Moreni tested positive for testosterone.

Feature image: King of the Mountains Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole – CSF Inox, at left) with the other classification winners prior to the start of the final stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia

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