ROME, April 29, 2009 (AFP) – The Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) on Wednesday confirmed that cyclist Davide Rebellin was under investigation for doping due to a positive test returned at last year’s Olympics.
The 37-year-old, who earlier this month won the prestigious Fleche Wallonne race, tested for the new generation of EPO, Cera in a re-test of samples from Beijing.
“Coni president Giovanni Petrucci has suspended an Olympic athlete with immediate effect,” said a Coni statement on Tuesday night before confirming press reports about Rebellin on Wednesday.
The Diquigiovanni rider will appear before anti-doping prosecutors next Monday.
His team said they had suspended Rebellin pending the doping inquiry while stressing that Rebellin was a Gerolsteiner rider last year when he competed at the Games.
“We’re shocked and incredulous and we hope the B sample will prove the rider’s claim of innocence,” said a Diquigiovanni statement.
“We really hope that because at the beginning of the season we were able to admire his qualities, not just sporting but also moral.”
Team owner Lino Diquigiovanni insisted that he believed in his rider in an interview with Italian news agency Ansa.
“I spoke to Davide by telephone, he’s very bitter but at the same time he denies every accusation,” he said.
“And he assures that what’s happened is not true.”