Italian mountain biker Riccardo Chiarini, who finished fourth overall in the 2014 Absa Cape Epic with partner Roel Paulissen of Belgium (Team Torpado Factory), has tested positive for unusually high levels of EPO.
The former road professional was tested out-of-competition on May 7 this year by the UCI. The finding of excessive EPO (erythropoietin) was made in terms of the biological passport system. Torpado, the Italian bicycle manufacturer and team sponsor, confirmed it had been informed of the positive test results and had suspended the rider with immediate effect pending any appeal.
The Absa Cape Epic last year introduced a zero tolerance approach to doping where anybody found guilty of an offence committed after December 31, 2012, would be banned from the event for life. So in this case, Chiarini will be banned for life if the finding is confirmed, whereas Paulissen still races as his ban was before December 31, 2012.
“As things stand, therefore, Chiarini is suspended from the Absa Cape Epic and will be given a lifetime ban if the finding is confirmed,” said Absa Cape Epic spokesperson Chris Whitfield.
Chiarini and Paulissen won Stage 5 of the 2014 Absa Cape Epic on their way to the fourth place overall. In terms of the UCI testing protocol, at least one of the Torpado riders would have been tested after winning the stage. The South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS), which carried out the testing at the Absa Cape Epic for the UCI, has not yet released its findings.
Because Chiarini’s out-of-competition test was carried out after the Absa Cape Epic, it does not effect his 2014 race results. The biological passport system depends on testing of an individual athlete’s biological markers over a period of time. Doping violations are detected by noting variances from established levels.
The Absa Cape Epic’s rule on doping states: “Any person who is under provisional or final sanction by an Anti-Doping Organisation with jurisdiction under the WADA Code (a “person under sanction”) is prohibited from participating or being involved in the race, whether as a rider, team manager or official or in any other capacity whatsoever. Where any such sanction has been made final for an offence committed after 31 December 2012, such prohibition shall apply for the life of the person under sanction (irrespective of the duration of the sanction imposed by the relevant Anti-Doping Organisation).”