Davide Rebellin – the veteran Italian who was banned for two years and lost his silver medal for testing positive for CERA during the 2008 Olympic Games – vows to return to professional racing next season when his ban ends in April.
Rebellin, 39, lost his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport last July to try to salvage the silver medal he claims he won fairly during the men’s elite road race in Beijing. CAS denied the appeal and Rebellin is serving out his two-year ban that ends April 27 next year.
“I have some teams interested in me, and two offers are quite interesting. I will decide by December,” Rebellin told the Giornale di Vicenza. “I want a team that can get me back into the biggest races, first the classics and hopefully the world championships with the Italian selection if I deserve it. I have at least two more seasons of racing of in me, then we’ll see what happens.”
Rebellin said he has been maintaining his rigorous training workouts despite the racing ban, riding up to 33,000km this year, and said he maintained close contact with other pros based in and around Monaco.
“I’ve been training as if I were racing the next week. I replaced the races with intense workouts to simulate the effort of racing,” he continued. “I trained with Vinokourov and Gilbert, also with a lot of the Australians, but they stop too often at the bar for coffees for my taste.”
It will be interesting to see who Rebellin’s return is welcomed by some of the major race organizers, who have taken a case-by-case posture on riders returning from bans.
Some riders, such as Ivan Basso and Alexander Vinokourov, returned to major events with the firm backing of teams and organizers, while others, such as Riccardo Ricco, were shunted aside. Ricco was snubbed by Giro d’Italia organizers last year when his Flaminia squad was not invited to start Milan-San Remo or the Giro.
Rebellin has been reluctant to publicly speak about his racing ban, which was surrounded by controversy. His Beijing samples were frozen and later retested seven months after the Olympic Games to reveal traces of the banned blood booster CERA. He strongly denied taking the drug, but was banned nonetheless.
Officially, he’s been stripped of his silver medal, meaning that bronze medalist Fabian Cancellara should be receiving a medal of a different shade, while fourth-place rider Alexander Kolobnev should see him bumped up to bronze. Neither rider has said they have received official recognition of the adjusted standings from either the UCI or the IOC.