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Rebellin, Schumacher are CERA suspects

German federation says Schumacher also nabbed in IOC retest

His team quicly pointed out that Rebellin was on <i>Gerolsteiner</i> last summer.

His team quicly pointed out that Rebellin was on Gerolsteiner last summer.

Photo: Graham Watson

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) confirmed Wednesday that the athlete under investigation for a doping violation at last summer’s Olympics is cyclist Davide Rebellin.

The 37-year-old, who earlier this month won the prestigious Flèche Wallonne spring classic, tested for the new generation of EPO — a Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator (CERA) — in an International Olympic Committee re-test of samples from Beijing.

“CONI president Giovanni Petrucci has suspended an Olympic athlete with immediate effect,” said a CONI statement on Tuesday night before confirming press reports about Rebellin on Wednesday.

The Diquigiovanni rider will appear before anti-doping prosecutors next Monday.

His team said it had suspended Rebellin pending the doping inquiry, while quickly pointing out that Rebellin was a Gerolsteiner rider last year when he competed at the Games. Rebellin is the third former Gerolsteiner rider accused of using CERA in 2008. In samples provided during the 2008 Tour de France, double stage winner Stefan Schumacher and KOM jersey winner Bernhard Kohl both tested positive for CERA.

“We’re shocked and incredulous and we hope the B sample will prove the rider’s claim of innocence,” said a Diquigiovanni statement. “We really hope that because at the beginning of the season we were able to admire his qualities, not just sporting but also moral.”

Team owner Lino Diquigiovanni insisted that he believed in his rider in an interview with Italian news agency Ansa.

“I spoke to Davide by telephone, he’s very bitter but at the same time he denies every accusation,” he said. “And he assures that what’s happened is not true.”

In a related story, the German cycling federation (BDR) announced Wednesday that Schumacher also tested positive CERA in the IOC retest.

“The German cycling federation (BDR) have passed documents about a failed doping test on to the sportsman Stefan Schumacher,” said the BRD in a statement.

“It is now up to him whether he requires the opening of the B sample or not.”

Schumacher first tested positive for CERA in October 2008 after a sample he gave from the Tour de France was retested and in February he was banned by the UCI, cycling’s governing body, for two years.

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