27 Jan 2009

Italian cyclist banned

5:42 am on 27 January 2009

The Italian Olympic Committee has suspended cyclist Leonardo Piepoli from competition for two years for failing a dope test taken during last year's Tour de France.

The 37-year-old Piepoli won the 10th stage of the race in the Pyrenees, but in October the French Anti-Doping Agency announced that the Italian had tested positive for CERA -- the new generation of EPO -- in two re-tested samples from the Tour.

Piepoli was subsequently fired by his Saunier Duval team for breaking their code of ethics after they had pulled out of the Tour following team-mate Ricardo Ricco's positive test for EPO.

Former team-mate Ricco, who admitted doping, was also hit with a two-year ban although he has taken an appeal to Lausanne's Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the hope of having it reduced.