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Astana Qazaqstan neo-pro Michele Gazzoli has been handed a one-year suspension after the Italian tested positive for the banned substance Tuaminoheptane at the Volta ao Algarve in February.
The substance is primarily used as a decongestant, but has also been used as a stimulant and is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Gazzoli received a lighter sanction as it was deemed that the use of the Tuaminoheptane was unintentional.
In a statement issued by the Astana team, it said that Gazzoli claimed the substance entered his body after he used a medication called Rhinofluimucil to treat rhinitis. Despite the violation being deemed unintentional, Astana has ended its contract with the Italian rider.
“As part of this case, Astana Qazaqstan Team received from Michele Gazzoli a full explanation on how the above-named substance entered his body. These explanations have also been presented and thoroughly reviewed by the UCI,” the statement said.
“The UCI considered the explanations provided by Michele Gazzoli, namely the fact that the above-named substance entered the body unintentionally from the ingestion of a medication named Rhinofluimucil (a nasal spray for the treatment of rhinitis), purchased at a pharmacy independently without any implication of the medical staff of Astana Qazaqstan Team. The UCI decided this case was classified as an unintentional violation of anti-doping rule, which is why the disciplinary penalty was limited to one year of ineligibility and disqualification of the results of one race Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta only.
“Astana Qazaqstan Team categorically emphasizes that the team has nothing to do with this unfortunate violation of anti-doping rule by the rider Michele Gazzoli. Astana Qazaqstan Team, adhering to the zero-tolerance policy, decided to immediately terminate the contract with Michele Gazzoli.”
Gazzoli, who joined the team at the start of the season, continued to race following the Volta ao Algarve and was competing as recently as the Tour de Pologne last week. His suspension will not begin until August 10 and he will only be eligible to return to racing, subject to securing a contract, on the same date next year.
In addition to his one-year suspension, Gazzoli will lose the results he obtained at the Volta ao Algarve, but none of his other results since.