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STEFANO GARZELLI OUT OF GIRO - SPECIAL REPORT
 
By Fabio
Date: 5/21/2002
STEFANO GARZELLI OUT OF GIRO - SPECIAL REPORT
 

8h05 PM - Italian Time - It's official now !! Italy's RAI TV said that The result of the counter-analysis made this afternoon in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Stefano Garzelli's urine "B" sample, confirmed the "positive" (which for both the rider himself and us cycling fans is a truly negative thing) result of the first tests.

Stefano Garzelli tested positive for Probenecid (a diuretic that could mask other banned performance-enhancing drugs) at anti-doping tests he underwent after Stage 2, the one finishing to Ans/Liege (Belgium) on Monday, May the 13th, when he both clinched victory and took the Overall Lead in the race.

In other words, the Mapei-Quick Step (now former)captain won't take the startline tomorrow. Tests actually dected an infinitesimal part of probinecid, corresponding to 20 nanogrammes (1 gramme = 1 million nanongrammes). Such a low quantity that, according to Dr. Leon Schattenberg, Chairman of the UCI Sporting Safety and Conditions Commission (and man who took care of carrying out the counter-anaylisis), as well as Alvaro Crespi, Mapei's Team Manager, couldn't actually mask anything (But this substance is obviously part the CIO's "black list" even if assumed at low doses). Besides this, the rider gave completely negative to tests carried out after the following stages (finishing in Esch-Sur-Alzette, Strasbourg and Limone Piemonte).

And his team, still claiming there might a plot against them behind all this affair, could even file a lawsuit (but against whom ?). In order to support their "plot theory", the Mapeis quoted some strange events happened before, during and after the Giro's leg number two.

First the indispositions they said some riders and Team staff members (including a soigneur, brother of Andrea Noe', who even was hospitalized) suffered when in a Cologne hotel before Stage 2.

Second was the unusually high number of times several Mapeis had to stop and ... relieve along the stage (an uncommon incontinence noticed also by the TV commentator that was following the peloton on a motorbike).

And eventually a "strange" phone call a Mapei Team Staff member received from a Padua-based "Guardia di Finanza" (Italy's Tacs and Border Police", they also take care of the anti-dopng investiogations, along with the "Carabinieri") agent, who asked him a confirmation of rumours saying two Mapeis had tested positive. Something strange indeed, as the call came just 3-4 hours after the tests on Garzelli were conducted, while usually it takes much longer for the results to be known.

As every crime needs a motive (or "every crime is a mystery story with a motive at its heart" if you prefer), the Mapeis mentioned the problems they had with many people in the cycling world, due to their "anti-doping" outspoken stance (although this might seem even paradoxical now ...).

As for the rider himself, Team Manager Alvaro Crespi said, during the press conference he and Garzelli gave after the "B" Sample results were made available, that "It's not time for being demagogical, or railing against a rider who, as I have to say on behalf of the whole team, always acted in an exemplary fashion, and followed the indications given by the team, at least as far as I know. This doesn't mean that Garzelli shouldn't go home of course. It is the positivity that matters, not the quantity, although one may draw his conclusions after knowing how little the probenecid detected in Garzelli's urine was".

The Mapei directors also started an "internal investigation" in order to know more, and could take any eventual step against the rider presumably only at the end of this inquiry.

Also Stefano Garzelli talked to the press, and sounded much more serene than on "shocking day" (Saturday): "I expected the counter-analysis to confirm the "A" sample results, as they usually do. But my conscience is clear. Something happened, but I am not able to say what. Now I'm going to take a break, some time off to think, and regain my wish to keep on cycling, as this kind of things could lead you to stop. Indeed I really don't feel like riding again in this moment, but I think, I hope that with the help of some people I may change my mind. Who knows, maybe in two, three, six months or an year, if not under suspension (an eventual suspension should be awarded by the Swiss Cycling Federation anayway, as the rider, born and living near the Italo-Swiss border, is a member of that country's Federation), I might be back to racing". And even yours truly is quite optimistic about him being back to cycling not in a long time ...

Another member of the "exclusive club" of Giro favorites, namely Gilberto Simoni, who could take advantage of Garzelli's exclusion, didn't sound so happy about that: "This is very bad and serious thing for both Tour of Italy and cycling in general, regardless of the rider involved. I really don't like it".

 
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