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BMC sacks Alessandro Ballan as former world champion banned for 2 years

Italian Olympic committee CONI sanctions ex-Lampre rider caught up in Mantua investigation

BMC Racing has sacked Alessandro Ballan after the former world champion was today banned for two years by the Italian Olympic committee, CONI.

The 34-year-old rider’s ban results from the long-running Mantua investigation centred around alleged doping involving his former Lampre team during 2008 and 2009.

In 2008, Ballan won the Tour of Flanders as well as the the rainbow jersey on home soil at Varese, the last Italian to win the world championship. He joined BMC Racing at the end of the 2009 season.

CONI said that the sanction was imposed due to a breach of article 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Code, which prohibits “the use or attempted use of banned substances."

Also sanctioned by CONI today were the pharmacist said to be at the centre of the doping ring, Guido Nigrelli, who has been banned from involvement with sport for life, and doctor Fiorenzo Egeo Bonazzi, who received a four-year ban.

In 2011, Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport published transcripts of telephone conversations between Nigrelli and Ballan in which it claims the pair discussed the use of EPO and human growth hormone.

In a statement, Ballan’s team said: “In accordance with the BMC Racing Team's strict anti-doping policy, Ballan is no longer a member of the BMC Racing Team."

Ballan, a Classics specialist, has never raced the Giro d’Italia – he was scheduled to race it twice with BMC, in 2010 and 2011, but on both occasions was taken off the team’s active roster after reports in the Italian press that named him in connection with the Mantua investigation.

Last year, he raced just 16 days due to complications in his recovery from injuries sustained in a training ride in Spain the previous December.

Ballan’s ban will expire on 16 January 2016.

It comes just five weeks after CONI handed down a lifetime ban to another high-profile Italian cyclist, former Giro d’Italia champion Danilo Di Luca.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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