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SWITZERLAND - The International Cycling Union (UCI) has provisionally suspended Italian rider Maurizio Biondo for doping.
The UCI says 28-year-old Biondo tested positive for the banned endurance-boosting hormone EPO in an out-of-competition blood sample taken on August 12.
The world governing body said yesterday that the ban would stay in force until the Italian cycling federation holds a disciplinary hearing.
Biondo can request that his backup sample be analysed. He has the right to attend the testing at the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Biondo rides for Ceramica Flaminia, a second-tier team registered in Ireland.
Meanwhile, three unnamed Ukrainian cyclists who rode in the Tour de L'Avenir in France have been indicted for possession and use of doping substances, the L'Equipe sports newspaper reported yesterday.
The riders were arrested on Saturday by authorities and later freed after admitting to having used equipment for blood transfusions.
The Tour de L'Avenir involves young riders competing for their national teams, but state prosecutor Jean-Francois Parietti from Vesoul said that there was "no evidence" that the whole Ukraine team was involved.
"At the moment it looks like a case of individual doping," he said, adding that the equipment that was seized could be used for doping but was not on the banned list.
The entire Ukraine team withdrew from the event on Saturday. - Sapa-AP and DPA