Cycling: Italian riders refuse to take drug tests

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The Independent Online
MARIO CIPOLLINI'S 27th stage win in the Giro d'Italia was overshadowed yesterday when another drug controversy engulfed cycling.

Before the 189-kilometre stage began in Ancona, Italian riders from three teams refused to be drug-tested by the Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) medical team. They were following Sunday's advice from Hein Verbruggen, head of the International Cycling Union (UCI), who stated in an open letter that Italian riders could decline the Coni tests without fear of breaking any rules.

When the Coni officials made their early morning visit to team hotels in the area only the Italians in the Mapei team accepted the testing. Riders from Polti, including the 1997 Giro winner Ivan Gotti, and the Lampre and Riso Scotti teams declined to take the tests. Mapei riders, including the Paris-Roubaix classic winner Andrea Tafi, declared on Saturday that they would submit to any tests from Coni, the UCI, or the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI). Yesterday's samples were taken for testing at a Rimini hospital, accompanied by the Mapei team doctor, Giovanni Ruffini.

Cipollini, unaffected by the controversy, celebrated his return to his home region of Tuscany by resisting all threats in the final 100 metres of the 10th stage. A late lunge by Ivan Quaranta, who won on the opening day at Agrigento, snatched second place from his Italian compatriot Massimo Strazzer. The Frenchman Laurent Jalabert still leads overall from Italian Marco Pantani.

GIRO D'ITALIA 10th stage (189km Ancona to Sansepolcro) Leading places: 1 M Cipollini (It) Saeco 4 hr 28min 24sec; 2 I Quaranta (It) Mobilvetta; 3 M Strazzer (It) Mobilvetta; 4 F Arazzi (It) Amica Chips; 5 E Leoni (It) Vitalicio Seguros; 6 S Smetanine (Rus) Vitalicio Seguros; 7 G Balducci (It) Navigare; 8 J Blijlevens (Neth) TVM; 9 F Guidi (It) Polti; 10 A Petacchi (It) Navigare all s/t. Overall standings: 1 L Jalabert (Fr) ONCE 43:53:12; 2 M Pantani (It) Mercatone Uno; +002sec; 3 D Frigo (It) Saeco +58; 4 S Gontchar (Ukr) Vini Caldirola +1:09; 5 I Gotti (It) Polti +1:13; 6 D Clavero (Sp) Vitalicio Seguros +1:18; 7 O Camenzind (Swit) Lampre +1:24; 8 A Zulle (Swit) Banesto +2:04; 9 N Axelsson (Swe) Navigare +2:05; 10 A Noe (It) Mapei +2:19.