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  Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK
Pantani faces ban
Marco Pantani in action in last year's Giro d'Italia
Pantani in action in last year's Giro d'Italia
Cyclist Marco Pantani could be given a four-year ban from the sport after allegations of using insulin.

The anti-doping investigating arm of Italy's Olympic Committee (Coni) have called for the former Tour de France winner to be banned.

The anti-doping commission alleged that Pantani used insulin - which boosts energy levels and is banned - during last year's Giro d'Italia.

A Coni spokesman said: "(The anti-doping prosecutors) requested that Pantani be banned for four years from professional racing."

It is now up to Federciclismo, Italy's cycling federation, to decide whether to meet the request and suspend the popular Italian rider.

Drug raids

Last year's Giro d'Italia was at the centre of controversy when 200 police officers searched the rooms of riders from all 20 teams, confiscating illegal substances.

On the basis of police investigations, the anti-doping commission last month recommended bans on 13 Italian cyclists for periods up to four-and-a-half years.

However, Federciclismo cleared five and asked for more information concerning the cases of the other seven.

One cyclist was handed a six-month ban but it was backdated, meaning he will be able to compete in this year's Giro d'Italia.

This year's event starts in nine days time but it is not certain how quickly Federciclismo will be able to reach a decision on Pantani.

The news completed a bad day for the rider, who had earlier learned that his Mercatore Uno team would not be be given a wild card to compete in the Tour de France.

See also:

02 May 02 |  Cycling
Pantani not picked for Tour
22 Apr 02 |  Cycling
Riders escape bans
11 Apr 02 |  Cycling
Pantani quizzed
26 Jun 01 |  Tour de France
Battle against drug pedlars continues
06 Jun 01 |  Other Sports
Police raid Giro teams' hotels
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