Today Stefano Agostini, as 23-year-old climber in the employ of the Italian Cannondale team, announced he won't contest his positive test for clostebol, a banned steroid. He has been fired by the team and his future is in doubt.
For now... because Agostini has an explanation which, while not likely to avoid a ban, might reduce his ban, and more importantly, might cast him as an acceptable rider who made a mistake, rather than a cheat. Here's the explanation he gave to Tuttobici:
Tornato dal Tour of Utah, ho sofferto per uno sfogo al gluteo sinistro, e di notte non sopportando più il prurito ho chiesto aiuto a mia madre che mi ha suggerito di usare una crema che aveva utilizzato lei tempo addietro per un problema simile. Ho applicato quindi un velo di Trofodermin, un farmaco da banco, che mai avrei pensato potesse contenere un principio attivo vietato. Se non fosse stato un medicinale che si ottiene senza ricetta mia mamma non me l'avrebbe mai dato... Così, alle 3 di notte, non ho letto il foglietto illustrativo e dopo essermi spalmato la crema sono tornato a dormire. Neanche mi ha fatto guarire lo sfogo...
I returned from the Tour of Utah, I suffered for a vent to the left buttock, and at night I could not stand the itching asked for help from my mother who suggested I use a cream that she had used some time ago for a similar problem. I then applied a thin layer of Trofodermin, a medication over the counter, I never thought it could contain an active ingredient prohibited. If it was not a medicine that you get without a prescription my mom would have given me not ... So, at 3 am, I have not read the package insert and after I smeared the cream went back to sleep. I did not even heal the rash ...
CN has "vent" as "rash," which is less likely the allergic kind and more like the tarmac kind, but who knows? In any event, this has to be the least bullshitty excuse for a doping positive ever, right? Not that the bar is very high. Most of them consist of "I didn't do nuthin" or "Someone slipped me a bad supplement" or "I was nowhere near Michele Ferrari." An then of course there's the old "disappearing twin," an act of lawyering so fiendishly beautiful I could cry. ["Hey European defense counsel, you want zealous representation? I got your zealous representation right here."]
On a scale of 1-5 Danilos, the disappearing twin is a four. Five is caught red-handed (hence the name), but the twin theory, aside from being obvious bullshit, is at least one that makes you think, which pushes the number back to maybe three, but then is completely immune to any proof, which brings it back up to four. Steak-gate was a three -- more plausible but still immune to proof. Did they save Contador's gristle? Can the cow be reached for comment? Ah... nope.
What makes Agostini's case so rare and hopeful is the specificity and provability of it. He says exactly what he believes led to the positive test, one with multiple eyewitnesses. The follow-up was that he told the team doctor the next day what he'd done, the doctor told him right away that Trofodermin contains Clostebol, and that he could expect to test positive. That's what happened. All very plausible. Furthermore, I bet his mom has the tube still. At a minimum, if it's prescription, there's probably a record of her purchase (assuming such things work in Italy the way they do here). Perhaps his blood test would reveal other findings consistent with that particular medicine.
Not bullshit, right? I would start him at one Danilo, with the possibility that this could be history's first zero-Danilo positive test. What do you guys think?