News that Franco Pellizotti’s biological passport has some suspicious stamps has the cycling world buzzing.
The UCI has requested an investigation of the Liquigas rider after an analysis of his blood values raised serious eyebrows with the boys in the white lab coats.
While neither Pellizotti nor his Liquigas team have issued a statement, we’re prepared to offer a theory on how the Italian will explain his funky passport and defend his reputation.
His legal team will ague that the intensive use of hair care products over a period of years has altered his blood values. Pellizotti, famous for his ever changing tints, highlights and hair-colors, will try to prove that the chemicals in these salon treatments have essentially changed his blood chemistry. This isn’t a case of doping but instead hair care gone crazy.
Pellizotti was informed by the UCI that he was under investigation two months ago based on unusual blood values detected right before the 2009 Tour de France. So he has had ample time to collect evidence for his “hairspray and gel” based defense.
However, things don’t look so good for the man who was second in the 2009 Giro d’Italia. Last year Pellizotti and teammate Vincenzo Nibali were accused of working with Italian doctor Michele “Orange Juice” Ferrari by Amore e Vita team owner Ivano Fanini. Now, he’s in biological passport hell.
The hairspray line of defense is unique but not out of the realm of plausibility. According to Adam Welkins, a research scientist at cosmetics giant Revlon, prolonged usage of hair care products could in fact skew blood values. “It’s a leaching process. The scalp is like a sponge and there are certainly plenty of chemicals in those products. We all pay a price for our vanity,” said Welkins.
Suspended rider and fashion playboy Danilo di Luca has reportedly contacted Pellizotti about a joint countersuit against the UCI using the hairspray defense. “There is truth in this. I use three or four products in the morning and before I go out in the evening. At last, I have discovered the explanation for my two failed EPO tests from the Giro,” said di Luca.
It may be that Pellizotti will also claim that other personal hygiene products have had a similar distorted effect on his blood chemistry. The use of spray-on tan preparations, eye de-puffer, Axe body wash and spray and anti-wrinkle creams may well play a starring role in his defense.
Twisted Spoke will be following this story closely just to see how it all gels together. It might be blood doping but it might just be a case of over-zealous hair styling.