Monday, 3 June 2013

Santambrogio Lands Another Blow To Cycling

When it was revealed that Danilo Di Luca had tested positive for EPO at the Giro the saddest thing about the whole affair was that nobody was surprised. He was of course a serial doper, an addict given numerous chances to turn his cycling career around yet he let the sport down time and time again reaffirming the opinion of many that a positive test should lead to a lifetime ban but today's announcement that his fellow Vini Fantini rider Mauro Santambrogio has also tested positive for EPO brings yet another more surprising blow to the sport...

Mauro Santambrogio had very few notable results since the start of his career in 2004 - until 2013 that is when he burst onto the seen and started climbing alongside Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador in stage races and picking up his first win since 2009, a podium place at the Giro del Trentino and a top 10 finish in this years Giro d'Italia - but we didn't question him, we were not even suspicious. In fact he's garnered much praise in 2013 (from myself included) for being a tough, attacking rider putting in good rides for a second tere team alongside the WorldTour boys and becoming a new golden boy of Italian Racing.

He may have finished 9th overall in this years Giro and taken victory on stage 14 but it was on stage 1 of this race where Santambrogio was drugs tested - a test that's now been found positive of EPO. When news of Di Lucas positive test broke, Vini director Luca Scinto described him as a cretin, he said:

"I'm knocked out. I never wanted Di Luca in the team and I didn’t hide it despite being criticised for my opinion. We've built out team based on the sacred values of cycling and we made a mistake by accepting the repeated request from our main sponsor to have faith in a rider they are close friends with. Unfortunately this faith has been repaid with an incredible error, which I still can't understand or take in."

The question is how Genuine are Scinto's remarks? Just days on and another of his riders has tested positive and questions will be asked now whether this is just individual riders taking matters into their own hands or whether there is a broader picture developing and doping is widespread throughout the team.

David Millar (Garmin Sharp) was quick to jump on twitter with his take on the Santambrogio positive too:
Riders are often quick to speak out and share their views on twitter after a rider has been found cheating but if there is persistent chit-chat amongst the peloton then why are they still keeping quiet? Of course nobody wants to make unfounded accusations but a word in the right person's ear or an expression of public discontent would at least help raise awareness of what's going on within the bunch.

Today is a sad day for cycling - the off season was full of the Lance Armstrong debacle and yet it seems riders are not willing to learn from his mistakes. The worlds press and the fans eyes focus is firmly on doping within the sport and yet if there is hint in a shift of attitude from certain riders then it appears many are clearly ignoring the fans, the rules and the credibility of the sport in order to make gains for themselves. We are barely half way through the season and already this year 5 riders have tested positive, in the whole of 2012 (pre Armstrong media frenzy) 7 riders tested positive. What does the maths tell us? It tells us nothing has changed. Lifetime bans for positive tests? I think now is the time...


  1. From Vaughters twitter feed, it seems that having a private word in the AD officials ears is exactly what some did. Which is the right way of going about it, i think. Otherwise we'd see possibly innocent riders' reputations being tainted because X or Y doesnt like them or got beaten by them


    1. Only just catching up with this but if Vaughters is right (He's not always) then it's a promising sign. Mind-you I'm pretty sure the UCI would have had their eye on him having gone from nothingdom to climbing alongside Froome and Contador within a season. Wonder how that UCI anti-doping hotline is getting on?