Rome

Cycling: Di Luca fails drugs test, faces life ban

Former Giro winner previously banned for two years for EPO use

Cycling: Di Luca fails drugs test, faces life ban

(By Paul Virgo) Rome, May 24 - Italian cyclist Danilo Di Luca will not finish the Giro d'Italia and risks a life ban after it was announced on Friday that he tested positive for blood-booster EPO in a surprise test taken at his home before the race started last month. The 2007 Giro winner was banned for two years in 2009 after testing positive for another drug, CERA, in the world's second biggest stage race that year, when he came second before being stripped of his place in the standings. The 37-year-old was also banned for three months in 2007 for links to a doping-tainted doctor. Di Luca was 26th in this year's Giro, over 33 minutes behind leader Vincenzo Nibali, before Friday's 19th stage was cancelled because of snow on the route. Di Luca's Vini Fantini-Selle Italia team said the rider has been sacked after international cycling's governing body UCI announced the test result and suspended him from competition. "It's over for me with Mr Danilo Di Luca," Vini Fantini-Selle Italia's Director of Sport Luca Scinto told ANSA. "What could I do? I fired him. According to me, people like this are ill. They don't realise what world they are living in. "I never wanted Di Luca in the team. The sponsor chose him and now they can take responsibility for it". Di Luca said Friday he was surprised and would ask for the B samples from the test to be checked. "I didn't expect it. It was a surprise for me. I'm disappointed," said Di Luca. "After the B tests we will talk about this affair again," he said. Cycling in general, and Italian cycling in particular, has been badly hit by a long string of doping scandals. Vini Fantini-Selle Italia said that, in addition to dismissing the 37-year-old, they will also seek damages from him. The Italian Professional Cyclists' Association (ACCPI) intends to do the same. ACCPI said it would "take legal avenues for the very serious damage this athlete has caused to the image of the whole profession". "Cycling is working with all its strength to regain credibility and the affection of the public," the statement added. "The group (of professional cyclists) does not accept the mad behaviour of an individual who damages the image of the whole movement". Even one of sport's most infamous drugs cheats, Lance Armstrong blasted Di Luca. "Knowing I have 0 cred on the doping issue - I still can't help but think, "really Di Luca? Are you that f**king stupid??"," Armstrong, who was stripped of seven consecutive Tour de France victories for doping, said via his Twitter account, @lancearmstrong.

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