Deeply sorry for our great English correspondent podofdonny, but seems that unfortunately his more than excellent portrait of the Panaria-Fiordo team for Giro d'Italia (link at the bottom of the page) should be updated.
Indeed no less than the squad's leader, Italy's Giuliano Figueras, will hardly be at the race startline in Groningen. On Wednesday the Neapolitan, involved in an affaire related to banned substances found by the Carabinieri anti-drug squads during the famous 2001 Giro raids in the San Remo hotels, got a six month suspension by the Italian Cycling Federation's Disciplinary Commission, three of which to be served immediately, and will consequently miss the coming Giro.
Bad news for him, Team Director Bruno Reverberi and all Panaria fans; but bad news for several other riders too, starting from another very likely protagonist of the Giro (if he could have been there of course ...): Alessio's fast wheel Endrio Leoni got the same ban as Figueras, and the Tour of Italy's sprints will definitely miss this possible contender to the "Lion King" and Ivan Quaranta.
Same punishment for Ermanno Brignoli (Mercatone Uno) and Alberto Elli (Index-Alexia), while things went differently for two more former Mercatone-Uno rider: Daniele De Paoli got a six-month ban, but as he already served three of them (the suspension was backdated to February the 11th, 2002) according to the law he will be allowed to take the start in Italy's Grand Tour. As for famous Giampaolo Mondini, the rider from Faenza, recently sacked by U.S. Postal, got a more severe 9-month ban, but still much less than the 4 and a half years previously recommended by the CONI's anti-doping Committee headed by Giacomo Aiello (actually ALL supensions awarded were blatantly inferior to the ones asked by Mr. Aiello).
As fot other riders (Marco Pantani, Fabio Sacchi) no sanctions yet as the decision concerning them was postponed and they will be at the Giro start.
And last but not least, Filippo Simeoni (who at least was one of the few to break a certain wall of silence cncerning doping matters in cycling) got a 3-month banned, which he alreay served anyway, while good news for Marco Zanotti,a sthe italian sprinter was cleared of any charge against him.
So the expected "last minute changes" to the previous Giro startlist (see link below) came in a very unexpected way !!
These "changes" will likely affect the "Fabio's Fantasy Giro" too, as the previously done riders lists are no longer up-to-date, and will need some changes, so their "coming to the site" has been slightly postponed, waiting for more news about Figueras', Leoni's and Brignoli's substitutes to come. Stay tuned for more updates.