AIGLE, Switzerland (AP) — Giro d'Italia stage winner Mauro Santambrogio tested positive for EPO from a sample given on the opening day of the race last month and has been temporarily suspended by cycling's governing body.
The International Cycling Union also asked the Italian cycling federation to proceed with a disciplinary case. He could be stripped of his victory in mountainous Stage 14 and his ninth-place finish overall.
"I can only say that I'm incredulous about what happened and I will ask for a 'B' test as soon as possible," Santambrogio told the ANSA news agency.
He tested positive in a urine sample May 4, the first stage of the three-week race, UCI said.
The 28-year-old cyclist joins Vini Fantini teammate and fellow Italian Danilo Di Luca in failing doping tests involving the banned blood-boosting hormone at their country's premier race.
"At this point I should quit cycling because you really can't trust the riders," Vini Fantini team director Luca Scinto said from the Italian cycling federation, where he was attending a hearing on the Di Luca case. "If I had (Santambrogio) within my hands now I would hit him. At this point we're all finished."
"I had spoken to Santambrogio before the Giro and I told him that there were some rumors going around about him. A lot of people were saying he's riding too fast," he added. "But he was explicit and guaranteed me he was clean and said that he was offended by my request for an explanation. 'Luca, it's just envy,' he told me. And I always defended him."
Renato Di Rocco, president of the Italian cycling federation president, said word of another doping case on the team will "prompt us to widen and deepen our inquiry."
"Evidently some cyclists haven't understood and still hope to ruin things at the cost of everyone else," he said.
On May 18, Santambrogio rode through treacherous weather into Bardonecchia to beat eventual overall winner Vicenzo Nibali for the stage victory. It was the biggest success of Santambrogio's career.
Two days before Nibali completed his victory, 2007 Giro winner Di Luca was announced to have tested positive for EPO in a sample given days before the race. Di Luca was pulled from the Giro and fired by his team. The 37-year-old rider faces a lifetime ban for a third offense.
A third doping case at the Giro involved French rider Sylvain Georges. The rider for AG2R La Mondiale tested positive for the banned stimulant Heptaminol in a urine sample after the seventh stage.