Reuters - Tue, 04 May 11:17:00 2010
Franco Pellizotti's guilt in a doping case has not been proved and the announcement of disciplinary proceedings on the eve of the Giro d'Italia is unhelpful, his angry Liquigas team has said.
The International Cycling Union said on Monday there was suspicious data in the biological passport of the Italian, second in last year's Giro, and that a disciplinary case was now open.
Italy's cycling federation president Renato Di Rocco said this would almost certainly mean Pellizotti would miss the three-week Giro, which starts in Amsterdam on Saturday.
Liquigas, who showed their tough stance on doping by pursuing unprecedented damages from banned rider Manuel Beltran, were incredulous about the UCI's decision.
"According to current analyses, the evidence which has been presented does not seem to scientifically prove with certainty any improper conduct by the athlete," a statement read.
"Liquigas Sport has faith in the explanations that will be provided by Franco Pellizotti and by the experts whom he has hired.
The Italian team said it would take action against the rider or the authorities, whoever was proved to be in the wrong.
"Liquigas Sport is extremely disappointed about the action that has been taken, with particular reference to the untimely notification of the athlete's alleged abnormal values.
"These values actually date back to the summer of 2009 but have only now been made public on the eve of such an important engagement."
Cycling and the Giro in particular have been battling a long series of doping scandals in recent years.