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Drug charge ends Petacchi Tour bid

  • Story Highlights
  • Italian cyclist Alessandro Petacchi has been charged with doping by CONI
  • He gave a "non-negative" test after the third of five Giro d'Italia stage wins
  • The charge almost certainly rules him out of the Tour de France
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ROME, Italy -- Italian cyclist Alessandro Petacchi has been barred from competing in the Tour de France by his Milram team after being charged with doping by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) on Wednesday.

Petacchi leaves after being heard by the Italian Olympic Committee's chief doping prosecutor in Rome.

Petacchi, who had been provisionally suspended by Milram last week, will be replaced by Ukrainian Andriy Grivko for the world's biggest cycling race which gets underway in London on Saturday.

"We've signed the ProTour's ethical code and by virtue of this code a rider suspected of resorting to doping cannot compete in a race," Milram general manager Gerry van Gerwen said.

CONI's anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri has requested the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) ban the 33-year-old sprinter for one year.

Petacchi delivered a "non-negative" test after the third of his five stage wins at the Giro d'Italia.

The urine sample he gave at Pinerolo on May 23 showed an unusually high level of salbutamol, a substance primarily used to treat asthma.

Salbutamol is a banned substance but riders suffering from asthma are allowed restricted use of the drug if they can provide a medical certificate.

Petacchi has such a certificate having suffered from asthma for many years.

The urine sample taken at Pinerolo was the only one of the five doping tests he gave that showed an excessive amount of salbutamol.

Petacchi, who did not compete in last year's Tour de France because of a knee injury, won four stages in the 2003 race.

Last month Petacchi's fellow-Italian Ivan Basso, the 2006 Giro winner and one of the favorites for the Tour de France, was given a a two-year ban for his involvement in the Operation Puerto blood-doping scandal.

In addition Giro winner Danilo Di Luca is scheduled to appear before Torri a week on Saturday as part of a separate inquiry connected to a 2004 police investigation into possible doping. Di Luca has said he has nothing to hide. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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