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By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2002
The troubled saga of Marco Pantani continued Monday as Italian Cycling Federation officials suspended the 1998 Tour de France winner for eight months and fined him 3000 Swiss francs ($1913) for illegally using insulin during the 2001 Giro d’Italia.
The management of Pantani’s Mercatone Uno team has also been fined 5000 Swiss francs for his use of a banned substance during the 2001 Giro. Traces of the drug were found in a syringe in his hotel room during the San Remo police raids that shut the race down for a day as investigators searched the rooms of every rider competing in the race that year.
Pantani’s attorneys, who have appealed the decision, had asked for all charges to be dropped on the grounds of absence of proof.
Pantini has been implicated in several different legal cases involving doping and last year had a suspended three-month prison term overturned on appeal on a technicality, though the judge in the case made a point of telling the rider he believed him to be guilty even as he dismissed the case.
Pantani won the Tour de France and Giro double in 1998 but was ejected from the 1999 Giro just one day before the scheduled finish in Milan. Though he has attempted to regain his professional momentum, his last significant success was a stage win at Courchevel in the 2000 Tour de France.