Giro d'Italia

Bardiani-CSF quits MPCC over cortisol controversy

In the wake of the MPCC's public criticism during the Giro d'Italia, Bardiani-CSF announced that it will quit the voluntary organization

In the wake of the Movement for Credible Cycling’s (MPCC) public criticism during the Giro d’Italia, Bardardi-CSF announced Thursday that it will quit the voluntary organization.

The Giro d’Italia is an essential race for an Italian Pro Continental team — a chance to shine in front of home crowds against the world’s best riders and teams. Bardiani-CSF delivered with a surprise victory from Nicola Boem in stage 11. However, Bardiani’s Giro success was overshadowed by controversy surrounding an unnamed team member who was said to have violated the Movement for Credible Cycling’s (MPCC) rules.

In an open letter released Thursday, team boss Bruno Reverberi explained the rationale for pulling out of the MPCC.

The team admitted that it “misinterpreted” some of the rules outlining the use of cortisone — MPCC rules demand that any rider with low cortisol levels be kept from competition for eight days —  but insisted that all its riders met MPCC cortisol guidelines at the start of the Giro. The team still has not identified which rider was under question of not meeting MPCC cortisol guidelines.

Instead, the team criticized MPCC, and hinted that the organization leaked the news right at the same time as Nicola Boem won stage 10 out of a breakaway for the Professional Continental team, and accused the MPCC of suggesting it was a “doping case,” saying an MPCC-issued press release was “completely inappropriate.”

“We confirm that that we made a mistake on the interpretation of the rules, but the rider in question was not responsible for the case, so not allowing him to start the Giro d’Italia would have penalized his future career without it being his fault,” Reverberi wrote. “We want to make it clear that the rider started the first stage of the Giro d’Italia on May 9 with normal cortisol values, as per the analysis that our doctor sent to the MPCC. We are very disappointed how events were managed, making us look like a team of dopers. We believe the press release was inopportune, both in its message and timing, because it didn’t resolve anything and didn’t allow the team to justify and clarify our position. We were condemned even before we gave our defense.

“Therefore, there is no point for us to go to the next [MPCC] meeting on June 8,” Reverberi continued. “We were among the first teams to join MPCC, because we believed in the project, but in light of the MPCC conduct towards us, a team that has never had doping problems … Therefore, for the damage caused to us and to our sponsors, the team informs that we no longer believe in the MPCC, and we are firmly ending our membership.”

Earlier this season, Lampre-Merida withdrew from the MPCC when it chose to respect Diego Ulissi’s contract, despite the Italian’s positive test for the asthma drug Salbutamol at the 2014 Giro. Lampre-Merida was caught between labor laws and an MPCC rule, which states that a cyclist must wait two years to return to competition after serving a ban of six months or more for an anti-doping violation.

“The situation was complicated,” Lampre manager, Brent Copeland said. “We can follow the MPCC’s rules, but there’s a much higher set of rules that we have to take into consideration, those worker liability laws in Switzerland where the team is based.”

That wasn’t Lampre-Merida’s first public encounter with MPCC rules; in August 2014 the team was forced to pull defending champion Chris Horner from the start list of the Vuelta a España due to his high cortisol levels, even though Horner’s cortisol levels met UCI standards.

And while race invitations aren’t an issue for WorldTour teams such as Lampre-Merida, wildcard invitations are a necessity for Pro Continental teams such as Bardiani-CSF. In December 2012, the Association of Race Organizers (AIOCC) agreed to give MPCC’s member teams priority when issuing invitations to its races. Membership in the MPCC is in no way required by the UCI.

In December, the MPCC suspended the Pro Continental team Neri Sottoli for 11 months, saying that the team had not produced a credible explanation for Matteo Rabottini‘s failed anti-doping test in September 2014.