Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) has received a nine-month suspension, back-dated to June 25 last year, after his positive doping test at the 2014 Giro d’Italia.
Though cleared of a deliberate doping violation – something the Italian had always denied after ‘abnormal levels’ of salbutamol were found in his system – Ulissi was found by the Swiss Olympic Association to have acted negligently.
Ulissi, 25, won two stages at the Giro d’Italia and was second in the individual time trial before succumbing to illness and abandoning after stage 18.
It was later revealed, however, that he had failed a drugs test at the Italian Grand Tour.
Ulissi was permitted to use Ventolin, which contains salbutamol, at the time – a fact his team stated when notice of his provisional suspension was first shared on June 25.
And in a statement issued this morning, Lampre-Merida expressed their support for the rider with a view of evaluating the situation alongside their medical staff over the next few days.
Ulissi said of the suspension: “Finally a decision has come today after a long and difficult period for me.
“I feel it is important to underline the recognition that I have not acted with the intent to improve my athletic performance, but it has been established that I committed negligently, which of course I regret, especially for the corresponding damage which has been caused to the team.
“I have always received great support from the team as well as from my family who have constantly stayed close to me throughout these difficult times.
“I am pleased that, in the light of this decision, my victories and results obtained remain unchanged. I can now start to concentrate and look forward to planning my return to racing.”
Ulissi also enjoyed a stage win at the Tour Down Under last year and was the second best young rider, behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar), at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Ulissi will be free to return to competition from March 28 this year, freeing up the possibility of his competing at the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d’Italia should he be selected.