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January 4/98 14:57 pm - Pezzo Loses Appeal

Posted by Editor on 01/4/98

Pezzo Update

World Mountain Bike Champion Paola Pezzo has lost the first round in her fight against a possible ban for drug use. Pezzo tested positive for the anabolic steriod Nandrolone at the World Cup Final in Annecy, France last September, and appeared before the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) last Friday (January 2nd) to try and have the result rejected.

Pezzo, and a battery of lawyers and medical experts, tried to persuade the Committee that the French lab conducting the test had made mistakes, pointing out that she had tested negative both the week before and 2 weeks after. They also claimed that the lab had had a rash of positive tests for the same drug that month, for soccer players. The Committee dismissed the Olympic gold medallist‚s arguments, and Pezzo will go before the Italian cycling federation in a week for a hearing on possible disciplinary measures. The possibilities range from a warning (very unlikely) to a ban of up to 2 years (also unlikely, for a first offence). Most likely would be a ban of 6 months to one year. This should keep Pezzo out of the early season World Cups.

So what does this positive mean for the end of last season? Well, Pezzo will definitely be stripped of her win at the World Cup Final (where she tested positive), and thus will lose her World Cup title. This will mean the Alison Sydor will become the overall World Cup champion (for the second year in a row). If a ban is imposed, then Pezzo will also lose her World Champions jersey, and silver medallist Nadia De Negri (Italy) will don the rainbow jersey. Sydor will move into the bronze medal position. The positive is, without a doubt, one of the highest level drug results in recent cycling history, and certainly the biggest in mountain biking history.

We tried to reach Alison earlier, but she had gone out riding. Her mother, Maureen, was very pleased to hear the news, calling it „a vindication of Alison‚s season.‰ We will be trying to reach Alison for comments later today.


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