Bernucci family suspended for 22 years, Petacchi next?
Cycling Weekly news logo
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) recommended a suspension totalling 22 years today for cyclist Lorenzo Bernucci and his family.
Bernucci won a stage of the 2005 Tour de France in Nancy and raced for Lampre this year. In April, police searched Lorenzo Bernucci's home and found banned drugs.
At a hearing on August 24, he said, "I accept full responsibility."
The CONI recommend a six-year suspension for Bernucci. The 31-year-old's last race was the Three Days of De Panne in Belgium on March 31.
Bernucci's family was also involved in the Padova-based investigation. CONI recommended a four-year suspension for his wife Valentina Borgioli, brother Alessio Bernucci, mother Antonella Rossi and father-in-law Fabrizio Borgioli. The suspension would prohibit them from participating or attending any official sporting event in Italy.
The CONI gave its recommendations to the Italian anti-doping tribunal (TNA), who will make an official ruling. A decision may come before the end of the month.
Bernucci already served a one-year suspension for using weight loss drug Sibutramine. He tested positive at the Tour of Germany on August 15, 2007.
He said that CONI's head prosecutor, Ettore Torri, surprised him with the severity of the recommendation today
"I wasn't expecting Torri to ask for this tough of a sanction. He will explain his reason in front of the TNA, and when I am called, I will explain my side. Then, they can decide," Bernucci told Italy's ANSA news agency.
"I don't think my family is involved, they haven't done anything. And besides, they don't even have any ties to sporting organisations."
Alessandro Petacchi raced for several years with Bernucci, including this year with team Lampre. While Petacchi rode to win two stages and the green jersey at the Tour de France in July, Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper made public that he was also apart of the Padova investigation.
Police searched Petacchi's home and two other properties owned by his wife on the same day they raided Bernucci's home in April. The CONI has been investigating him over charges he used synthetic blood Perfluorocarbon (PFC) and human serum albumin in 2009.
"It's not my stuff and it was not found in my home," said Petacchi during the Tour de France. "I don't know why I am accused of using those two substances."
Prosecutors heard Petacchi in Rome on August 24 after they heard from Bernucci. They also called in Lampre's Sports Director Fabrizio Bontempi, Doctor Carlo Guardascione and team masseur Paolo Chiesa, and Petacchi's wife Anna-Chiara.
Petacchi already served a doping ban due to testing positive for excessive levels of asthma medication, Salbutamol, at the 2007 Giro d'Italia. If the CONI decides to issue Petacchi a suspension, it may range from four years to life because it would be Petacchi's second offence.