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Franco Pellizotti Fails Bio-Passport, Out of Giro

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D_mediumGazzetta dello Sport reports today that Franco Pellizotti has fallen afoul with the bio-passport regime. The UCI has asked the Italian Federation to open a discplinary procedure against Pellizotti due to anamolous results in his bio-passport record. The Italian will not ride the upcoming Giro d'Italia as a consequence.

According to Gazzetta, the UCI notified Pellizotti of the irregular results two months ago. The rules offer the rider a chance to provide an explanation of the fluctuations, but it seems that Pellizotti could not do so. The irregularities date from testing around the time of the 2009 Tour de France, where Pellizotti won the mountains jersey. He also finished third at the 2009 Giro d'Italia, a performance that included a huge ride on the Blockhaus climb deep in the third week of the race.

With Franco Pellizotti out of the Giro, Liquigas-Doimo is expected to name Vincenzo Nibali as his replacement. Originally, Nibali intended to skip the Giro to focus on the Tour de France. The young Sicilian was scheduled to race the Tour of California. It appears he will now be spending May in Italy where he will share team leadership with Ivan Basso.

According to Gazzetta, we can expect the UCI to announce passport cases for up to five riders over the next few days. The Spanish newspaper Marca reports that Tadej Valjavec of AG2R-La Mondiale is expected to be among the riders implicated. Valjavec will also miss the Giro d'Italia. — Sources, Gazzetta dello Sport, Marca

Update: The president of the Italian Federation, Renato di Rocco, has confirmed the news that Franco Pellizotti is provisionally suspended on the ground of irregularities in his bio-passport. Di Rocco also named a second Italian involved in the bio-passport cases. — Source, Tuttobiciweb.it.

Update: The UCI has issued a press release naming three riders in the bio-passport case. The three riders are Franco Pellizotti, Jesus Rosendo Prado, and Tadej Valjavec. The UCI has asked for disciplinary procedures against all three riders, who showed irregularities in their bio-passports. A team of independent experts carried out the analysis of passport data. The release makes no mention of Carlo Scognamiglio, who the Italian Federation president claimed was also implicated in the case. The press release only names three riders, and it's unclear whether this is the end of the story or whether there are more names to come. The initial reporting claimed five riders would be named, but that story may have been incorrect. — Source, UCI Press Release.

Update: ISD has issued a statement on the bio-passport case:

Carlo Scognamiglio, this year in the team of ISD, has never received any communication regarding the possibility of irregularities in his passport, nor has the team.

The team statement also asserts that the statements of Di Rocco are false and the team is lawyering up in reaction to the to the image of the team and rider. — Source, ISD Cycling Team.