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Mapei Team Owner Claims Hein Verbruggen Threatened to Disqualify His Team



Giorgio Squinzi, once owner of the venerable Mapei cycling team, told the media today – that former UCI president Hein Verbruggen threatened to permanently disqualify his team after a remark he made back in 1999 regarding "doping" in the sport of cycling. As many may remember, Mapei was a dominant force in the sport throughout the 90’s. 

While at a conference in Pescara, Italy today, Squinzi  spoke about his own dealings with Verbruggen and his knowledge that the UCI president was protecting Armstrong.

"Sure it happened," Squinzi told the Italian newspaper Tuttobici. "I told him in 1999 when I said that you could not get in the top five at the Grand Tours without the use of doping."When I said those things Verbruggen threatened to disqualify my team forever."

 
While the Mapei team is not without controversy, Squinzi himself was always outspoken about the issue, and cited the sport’s drug problem as the reason for his withdrawal from backing the team in 2002. And, despite making changes in his  team, such as removing riders like Rominger who were training with the notorious Dr. Michele Ferrari, it was the continuous scandals in the sport that finally made him walk away.

Indeed, Stefano Garzelli was excluded from the 2002 Giro d’Italia after trace amounts of Probenicid – a banned diuretic, which can be used as a masking agent – were found in his urine. Many feel that this was one of the key events that caused Squinzi to withdraw his sponsorship.

"The exclusion of Garzelli, who tested positive for a masking agent, wasn’t a normal thing,” Squinzi said. “At the start nothing was found. Later, as soon as he won a stage, a forbidden substance came out all of a sudden. That’s bizarre."

 


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