1330 - According to Italian Television, the Saeco-Longoni Sport Team has suspended Gilberto Simoni, after the 2001 Tour of Italy winner tested non-negative for cocaine in a test carried out in Caserta after the Giro Stage 9. Another test, carried out about one month before at Giro del Trentino, had given a similar result.
The rider has been provisionally suspended, and his salary reportely freezed, waiting for further investigations to make things definitively clear. A similar sanction was applied in the case of Fabio Sacchi, the Saeco's Milanese sprinter that had his house searched by Carabinieri, and banned substances found there in, a few months ago, but was subsequently cleared of any doping-related accusations and reintegrated back into the team.
Saeco's decision might also help the Italian squad to keep its spot in the Tour de France Teams list. Indeed Saeco was awarded a wild-card to take part in the race, but obviosuly the "Simoni affair" put their participation in doubt. According to Saeco's Team Manager Claudio Corti, the decision will be made on Monday, after a meeting between the Saeco directors and TdF organizers. Simoni's own words (the rider, interviewed by RAI, said that it was his own mistake, but the team has nothing to do with it) could perhaps help further. Just let's wait and see what's going to happen ... In the meantime, you can read Saeco's press release on the matter.
1550 - SAECO LONGONI SPORT'S PRESS RELEASE :
Saeco - Longoni Sport suspend Simoni
Following the the new case of non-negativity of rider Gilberto Simoni in the anti-doping test carried out after the stage of the Giro d'Italia to Caserta, the Saeco-Longoni Sport team expresses their deep concern about what has happened, knowing that this feeling is also largely felt by public opinion.
This substantially modifies the situation created after the first case –an out of competition test taken before the Giro del Trentino. The team –after deciding to spontaneously retire the rider from the 85th Giro d'Italia for obvious reasons, was waiting for the subsequent second analysis or any other kind of explanation eventually supplied by the rider which would allow them to make a complete evaluation of the case before taking any kind of decision.
Obviously the communication received yesterday from the UCI -which the team decided to give to the press to show their full and clear honesty, substantially changes the the state of things.
A case of non-negativity - verified this time during the Giro d'Italia, in one of the normal tests taken at the end of each stage, places every objective explanation regarding the Giro del Trentino case in doubt, especially considering that the substance which the rider has apparently used is the same.
Having from the beginning shown a extremely severe position and having the desire to clear up the strange events which have absolutely have no links to the team's management of the rider, it is obvious that in consequence of the latest events the desire to continue a relationship with the rider have been affected, especially considering the the serious moral and material damages the whole case is creating for the team and its sponsors.
As a result the Saeco-Longoni Sport team makes note of having acted to suspend rider Gilberto Simoni and freeze his salary until a clear and substantial explanation of the case.