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Pantani's doping ban lifted after appeal

Posted: Saturday July 13, 2002 10:24 AM

PADUA, Italy (AP) -- Italy's top rider Marco Pantani's eight-month suspension for doping was lifted Saturday by the appeals commission of the Italian cycling federation, cycling officials were quoted as saying.

Word of cancellation of the suspension for the 32-year-old captain of the Mercatone Uno team came from Luigi Renga, president of the federation's appeals commission, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Renga was quoted by independent Web sites as saying Pantani's suspension was lifted "for not having committed any infraction."

"There was no certain evidence against Pantani, only assumptions," Renga was quoted as saying.

Federation officials said they could not immediately confirm that the suspension had been lifted.

The decision means that Pantani, a Giro and Tour de France winner in 1998, will be able to start in upcoming international races and, if included on the Italian team, in the World road Championship.

Pantani had been suspended by the disciplininary commission of the cycling federation last month but his lawyers had appealed the decision.

The suspension stemmed from an investigation into forbidden substances seized during police raids at the hotels of competing teams during last year's Giro d'Italia.

Pantani was investigated after an insulin-filled syringe was found in his hotel room. Pantani maintained that the insulin was not his.

Insulin, commonly used by diabetics, also aids the circulation of growth hormones, which can build muscle mass and increase endurance.

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