12th April 2019

11 Italians subject to anti-doping proceedings in March

Eleven Italians including a masters rower, a wheelchair tennis athlete and an u23 cyclist, were subject to anti-doping proceedings during March, according to announcements issued by Italy’s national anti-doping agency (NADO Italia). Five athletes were sanctioned for an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), five were provisionally suspended, and one had a provisional suspension lifted. In addition, one amateur cyclist was sanctioned with a two year ban whilst another was provisionally suspended after reporting an adverse analytical finding (AAF); whilst two recreational athlete were sanctioned (here and here) with four year bans.

NADO Italia did not publish the reasons why it had lifted a provisional suspension imposed on Paolo Fanton. The cross country skier was provisionally suspended on 22 February, after returning an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for hydrochlorothiazide and chlorothiazide at the La Lavazèloppet cross country ski race on 24 January. 

Forty-eight year old Wheelchair tennis athlete Paolo Stefanizzi was sanctioned with a five month ban; whilst Masters rowing athlete Nunzia Chirieleison was provisionally suspended after returning an AAF for betamethasone. Cyclist Stefano Lira was provisionally suspended after returning an AAF for a metabolite of clostebol, which often turns up in dermatological creams, as the Therese Johaug case highlighted. It is understood that the under-23 cyclist argues that the AAF was caused by a spray used after a fall.

Distance runner Luisa Betti was sanctioned with an 18 month ban, after she returned an AAF for betamethasone at the ‘100km of the Alps – Turin to Foglizzo’ event on 6 October 2018. Betti originally told journalists that her AAF was due to a cortisone-based medication that she used to treat blepharitis (inflammation of eyelids), which she had declared on her doping control form (DCF). She also alleges that a doctor gave false statements to cover up misconduct, and has said that she intends to appeal against the sanction.

Betti announced that she has retired from competition in dramatic fashion. “I would prefer to swallow my own arm than set foot in this environment again”, she told journalists in a statement. “I never cared about the timings, podiums or wins. I always raced for much more profound reasons as those who know me know. So in the end I can run on my own, to which I am now accustomed […] I am comforted by the face that I, unlike others, can look in the mirror in the morning. Others continue to crawl like sewer rats, protected by their sponsors and their recommendations. If this is an environment that rewards the latter then I’m sorry, but this cannot do for me.”

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