Milram has sacked its fabled sprinter, Alessandro Petacchi, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ordered that he serve a year’s suspension for taking more than the authorized dose of salbutamol.
“Every breach of our team policy is going to be penalized,” said general manager Gerry van Gerwen. “All infractions of internal rules are the object of a sanction and this is also true for Alessandro Petacchi.”
The 34-year-old Petacchi tested positive for the drug salbutamol in May after one of his five wins in last year’s Giro. The Milram sprinter was originally cleared of the charge by the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) last July, which found that Petacchi overused his inhaler after the stage and may have accidentally swallowed some of the drug in the process. However, the the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) argued that since the level of the drug exceeded permitted levels, Petacchi should still be suspended and appealed the FCI ruling to CAS.
While noting that Petacchi may well have accidentally inhaled too much of the bronchodilator and bore “no significant fault or negligence,” the CAS panel nonetheless suspended him for a year, while declining to impose a full two-year penalty.
“In order to establish no fault or negligence an athlete has to show that he used ‘utmost caution,’ the panel concluded. “Even on his own account, Mr. Petacchi took more than the authorized dose. He cannot establish that he used utmost caution.”
“CAS has ruled that Alessandro Petacchi is ineligible to compete for a period of one year, less two months already served,” the court noted in its decision. “Therefore, the period of ineligibility will run from 1 November, 2007, to 31 August, 2008.”
The court also ruled that all of Petacchi’s results from the 2007 Giro should be scratched from the record books. His palmares include four stage victories on the Tour de France, 24 stage wins on the Giro and the classic Milan-San Remo (2005) and Paris-Tours (2007).