How’s this for the first gift from the 100th Giro d’Italia? Two Italian riders on the same Italian team get popped for growth hormone just 24 hours before the race begins.
According to the cyclingnews story, UCI regulations would allow race organizer RCS to boot the entire team if they feel the reputation of the Giro has been soiled and disgraced — without having to wait a few weeks for the B sample to confirm dirty is dirty.
But back to Bardiani CSF. It’s now a seven man squad with the two dopers sent packing and the team is past the deadline for substitute riders. The question that needs to be decided ASAP, as in before tomorrow, is whether the whole team will be punished and kicked out.
One thing for sure, RCS Head of Cycling Mauro Vegni is not having a good time. First his crazy and dangerous and tone deaf idea of a Descenders Prize was met with instant disbelief and ridicule. He was forced to pull the prize after over a dozen riders went public on social media and called it flat out insane.
Now, he has to decide what else he is pulling from the race. Our feeling is he should just do the deed and send the message. The Giro has been dishonored a number of times in recent years and the teams went on the shit list and lost their invite the next year. Now is the time to step up the efforts because these Italian teams don’t seem to take their own policing too seriously.
To that point, we got the usual PR script from Bardini stating that they’re shocked and disappointed and that the “riders will be sacked if confirmed positive” and the team is threatening “possible legal action for damages.”
Which brings us to the sad state of pro cycling in Italy. We’ve already had the embarrassing ‘pagi e corri’ – ‘pay and ride’ investigation. One of the three teams in question? You guessed it — team manager Bruno Reverberi and Bardiani-CSF.
Oh sure, they ultimately got off without punishment (other than the terrible PR) but the statements from their riders painted an ugly picture of the inner workings of those teams.
Although you do have to wonder — if on one hand Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni are forced to cough up money just to ride, how are they also coming up with the money for the drugs? Tough job conditions for an Italian pro, that’s for sure.
Pirazzi will not be around to try to recapture the Giro king of the mountains title he bagged in 2013 or notch a stage win as he did in the 2014 edition. Ruffoni won’t be delivering any top 10 sprint finishes in what would have been his fourth Giro d’Italia appearances. Now, will their teammates also pay for their transgressions and be forced to join them on the sideline?
Astana is honoring the memory of their road captain Michele Scarponi, recently killed on a training ride, by leaving his vacant spot open on their Giro roster. Will the Giro d’Italia and Mauro Vegni honor their race by booting the entire Bardini squad? Our hope is yes but our suspicion is no.