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Pantani comments on Garzelli case

The man who knows a thing or two about drug scandals, Marco Pantani, has rushed to the defense of his former teammate Stefano Garzelli who has failed a dope test. "Until it's proved to the contrary he has the right to be innocent," said Pantani, who was himself thrown out of the 1999 Giro for failing a blood test. Garzelli, who now rides for Mapei, competed in Saturday's sixth stage despite testing positive for the diuretic probenicid, which has drug-masking qualities. He has vowed to retire from the sport if a second B-sample provided a positive drugs test. The 32-year-old Pantani was

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By VeloNews Interactive wire services, Copyright AFP2002

The man who knows a thing or two about drug scandals, Marco Pantani, has rushed to the defense of his former teammate Stefano Garzelli who has failed a dope test.

“Until it’s proved to the contrary he has the right to be innocent,” said Pantani, who was himself thrown out of the 1999 Giro for failing a blood test.

Garzelli, who now rides for Mapei, competed in Saturday’s sixth stage despite testing positive for the diuretic probenicid, which has drug-masking qualities.

He has vowed to retire from the sport if a second B-sample provided a positive drugs test.

The 32-year-old Pantani was thrown out of the 1999 Tour while wearing the leader’s pink jersey after giving a blood hematocrit reading above 50 percent.

Both riders were on Mercatone Uno when Garzelli largely contributed to Pantani’s Giro and Tour de France double in 1998. Garzelli was a member of the same team when he won the 2000 Giro.

“When I spoke about a conspiracy everyone laughed in my face. Now it’s the same people who are talking about a conspiracy,” claimed Pantani.

Pantani, who started the day in 64th place in the Giro at 5:14 behind leader Garzelli, said that he spoken to his former lieutenant before the Saturday’s sixth stage. “I told him that the wheel of fortune goes around,” said Pantani.

Copyright AFP2002