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ROME (AFP) – The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) banned Italian cyclist Danilo Di Luca for life on Thursday due to a positive test for the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO).
Di Luca tested positive for EPO in an out of competition test on April 29, forcing him to quit the Giro d’Italia.
Di Luca, 37, won the Giro in 2007, and finished second overall in 2009. He also served suspensions during both of those seasons — in 2007, for prior involvement with Italian doping doctor Carlo Santuccione, and in 2009, when he tested positive for using the blood-booster CERA during that year’s Giro.
Di Luca also delivered a urine sample during his 2007 Giro victory that reportedly recorded the hormone levels of a small child, dubbed “pipi degli angeli” (angel’s pee), a sign of the use of masking agents. However he ultimately was cleared for that offense, with CONI anti-doping officials admitting there was “not a sufficient degree of probability” for a doping conviction. He was able to keep his 2007 Giro title, though he was stripped of his 2009 second-place finish.
“He punched the Giro d’Italia in the stomach in 2007 and almost did it again in 2009,” former Giro d’Italia race director Angelo Zomegnan famously said on Italian television.
After serving a suspension, Di Luca returned in 2011 with Katusha, riding for no salary. He rode last year with Acqua & Sapone, and only opened his 2013 campaign after signing with Vini Fantini in late April. Shortly thereafter, he failed his out-of-competition drug test. Former Giro d’Italia race director Michele Acquarone called Di Luca’s 2013 positive test a “sign of addiction.”
As well as the life ban, Di Luca was also fined 35,000 euros, and his results since mid-April have been erased from the record books.