AIGLE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Cycling Union says retired sprinter Alessandro Petacchi is among four riders linked to a blood doping ring.
Petacchi, who won the points classification at all three Grand Tours, is suspected of using a “prohibited method” in 2012 and 2013.
The UCI says the riders are linked to the doping ring based on evidence from Austrian authorities, who are investigating illicit blood transfusions in multiple Olympic sports.
Petacchi, 45, retired in 2015 after winning 48 Grand Tour stages, tied for third all time with Brit Mark Cavendish, trailing Belgian Eddy Merckx (64) and countryman Mario Cipollini (57). Petacchi also claimed the sprinters’ title at all three Grand Tours, including the 2010 Tour de France.
Petacchi was banned 10 months in 2007-08 for overuse of an allowed asthma medication.
Besides Petacchi, Slovenian rider Kristijan Koren and Croatian rider Kristijan Durasek have been provisionally suspended, along with former cyclist Borut Bozic, now a sports director for the Bahrain-Merida team.
In March, Austrian riders Stefan Denifl and Georg Preidler were suspended in the same case.
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