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Saeco suspends Simoni after second cocaine positive

The Saeco team suspended Gilberto Simoni and froze his salary Saturday as team officials responded to news that the 2001 Giro d'Italia winner had again tested positive for cocaine. Simoni, who was pulled from the Giro by his Saeco-Longoni Sport teamon May 24, after news was released that he had failed an out-of-competiondope test on April 24. Simoni claimed that the positive was the resultof negligence on his part, saying that he had simply failed to report thathe had visited the dentist the same day drug testers from the World Anti-Doping Agency showed up at his apartment. Upon learning of

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Test during Giro showed cocaine, too

Simoni showed positive for cocaine in May, too

Simoni showed positive for cocaine in May, too

Photo: Graham Watson

The Saeco team suspended Gilberto Simoni and froze his salary Saturday as team officials responded to news that the 2001 Giro d’Italia winner had again tested positive for cocaine.

Simoni, who was pulled from the Giro by his Saeco-Longoni Sport teamon May 24, after news was released that he had failed an out-of-competiondope test on April 24. Simoni claimed that the positive was the resultof negligence on his part, saying that he had simply failed to report thathe had visited the dentist the same day drug testers from the World Anti-Doping Agency showed up at his apartment.

Upon learning of that first positive result, Simoni immediately produced a statement from his dentist certifyingthat he had treated the Saeco rider on April 24 and, as part of that treatment, had used “a local anesthetic containing Carbocaine two percent with adrenaline.”

The explanation, however, was disputed by pharmacologists, who saidthat the two drugs produce different results on tests. Doctor Larry Bowers,the senior managing director of the U.S. Antidoping Agency told VeloNews that there was “no way” that Carbocaine — or its generic equivalent Mepivacaine — would show up as cocaine in a drug test.

“If that was the only local anesthetic that he was given (as per the statement), then it is not possiblethat this is an explanation for a positive cocaine finding,” Bowers said.

Bowers position was echoed by others in the field. Still, Simoni continuedto protest the finding, saying that he was innocent. Saeco managementexpressed faith in their rider, opting to wait for the results of Simoni’sB-Sample and the results of an ongoing police investigation into the claim.Italian police had taken samples of the anesthetic used by the dentistfor purposes of analysis.

But Simoni’s “dentist defense” took a big hit Friday after UCI anti-dopingofficials released the results of a drug test taken on May 21, followingthe ninth stage of the Giro d’Italia, nearly one month after the test thatultimately resulted in his expulsion from this year’s Giro. his time, thetest was conducted during the Giro d’Italia, following Stage 9, coincidentally, the same day Mapei’s Stefano Garzelli, the Giro winner in 2000, was thrown out of the race after a second test had confirmed an earlier positive for the masking agent Probenecid.

On Saturday the team issued a statement explaining that news of a second positive “substantially modifies the situation,” and announced that Simoni would be suspended without pay until it gets “a clear and substantial explanation of the case.”