Davide Rebellin insists he will make a comeback even if he is banned for two years after testing positive for CERA, a form of banned blood booster EPO, at the 2008 Olympic Games.
The Italian also announced he will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision to disqualify him from the 2008 Olympic road race and take back his silver medal.
Rebellin has always refused to offer an explanation for his CERA positive at the 2008 Beijing Games and has kept a low profile as Italian tax officials investigate his claim that he lives in Monaco. But in a message delivered via his lawyers, he told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport: “Even if I’m not believed and found guilty, I’ll make a comeback to prove to everybody who Davide Rebellin is.”
The IOC and Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) have made it clear that they believe Rebellin is a cheat but he is determined to fight his case.
His lawyers Fausto Pavone and Federico Cecconi (who specialises in defending riders accused of doping) criticised the way the IOC had handled the case.
“We’re stunned because the IOC showed little respect for dialogue between the two sides,” Pavone told Gazzetta.
“They waited for our written defence, then after six months and with a stance we do not agree with, they issued their sentence. Within the time allowed (21 days), we’re going to appeal to the CAS and we’ll show that our defence has some truth to it.”
The lawyers refused to say how they will try and overturn the decision, saying they did not want to prejudice their defence strategy but also said they will prove that Rebellin lives in Monaco.
According to Gazzetta, the Italian Olympic Committee lawyers are also working hard as they consider taking Rebellin to court for the damage his case has caused to Italian sport.
Rebellin is the first Italian athlete to be ordered to give back an Olympic medal.