Two riders fail dope test on eve of 100th Giro d’Italia

Stefano Pirazzi (left) and Nicola Ruffoni of Bardiani-CSF. Photos: Sunada Yuzuru Sunada

Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni of Bardiani-CSF test positive for growth hormone

On the eve of the 100th Giro d’Italia, two cyclists from professional continental team Bardiani-CSF failed an anti-doping test. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported the doping positives this evening, 12 hours before the race pushes off from Alghero, Sardinia.

Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni, two cyclists in Bardiani’s nine-man team, tested positive ahead of the three-week race.

“We will release a statement soon,” a team spokesperson told Cycling Weekly this evening.

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The team would need to start with only seven men as it is too late to replace them on its roster. It was one of four wildcard invitations for the 2017 Giro d’Italia and one of two Italian teams.

The cycling federation, the UCI, confirmed it was a type of growth hormone via e-mail.

The UCI said it “notified Italian riders Nicola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) of GH-Releasing Peptides (GHRPs) in samples collected in the scope of out-of-competition controls on 25 and 26 April 2017 respectively.”

Pirazzi, 30, won the mountains classification in 2013 Giro d’Italia and a stage in the 2014 edition. Ruffoni, 26, has been racing for four years and won two stages in the Tour of Croatia last month ahead of the Giro.

Bardiani develops young riders and is known as the ‘green team’ for its colours and youth programme. It earned the right to race the Giro when it won the Italian Cup classification in 2016. It joined Italian team Wilier-Selle Italia, Poland’s CCC Sprandi Polkowice and Russia’s Gazprom-RusVelo.

The team said if the B samples confirm the positive tests then “it will immediately proceed with layoff, as provided for by internal regulations, signed by each riders at the beginning of the season.”

Bruno and Roberto Reverberi, managers of the team explained, “We’re absolutely shocked by the news. We will wait the results of further analysis and we will reaffirm with determination the intention to protect the values of our sport project.”

The team is due to continue the race. Last year, it won a stage with 21-year-old Giulio Ciccone. Race organiser RCS Sport indicated it could take action.

It said in a statement: “The Giro d’Italia’s race direction and RCS Sport reserves the right to take any appropriate measure to protect the image and the name of the Giro d’Italia.”