The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) have recommended Giro D'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca serve a two-year ban for doping offences.
|Danilo Di Luca denies any wrongdoing |
The ban, the second brought against the Italian rider in a matter of months, must be rubber-stamped by a sporting judge and refers to a doping test he took after the 17th stage of last year's Giro.
CONI made the surprise announcement on its website after months of wrangling over whether Di Luca's results from the test last May had broken any doping rules.
Officials have said his results showed abnormal hormone levels, which would usually be seen in a child.
"It is a charge conceptually flawed," Di Luca's lawyer Federico Cecconi said, adding that the issues were in no way clear.
"Cases like these are dropped. We risk declaring the total innocence of Di Luca at the end of a long procedure that harms in a serious way the professional life of an athlete of his character."
Di Luca said at the time of the surprise late night test that he had nothing to hide and was willing to cooperate even though it was not necessary under the rules.
The 32-year-old has since denied allegations he used a drip during the Giro, regarded as the second most important stage race behind the Tour de France.
Di Luca was given a three-month ban by CONI in October for a related doping matter. He was punished for his involvement with Carlo Santuccione, a doctor accused of supplying doping products to athletes.
The rider, who joined Team LPR from Liquigas in November, has always denied any wrongdoing and appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over the original ban.
The test after the 17th stage of the Giro was connected to the police and anti-doping authorities' probe into Santuccione and his associates, sources close to the matter said at the time.
Di Luca was forced to miss September's world championships in Stuttgart because of the doping probes and was thrown out of the Pro Tour in October while leading the competition.
Cycling has been rocked by a series of doping scandals in recent years and Italy has been hit especially hard.
Ivan Basso, Giro winner in 2006, is serving a two-year ban for his involvement in Spain's Operation Puerto scandal.
Italian Basso denied taking banned substances but admitted he had intended to commit a doping offence.
Ettore Torri, the anti-doping prosecutor at CONI, has been on a crusade to clean up cycling but has not always had his own way.
The Italian Cycling Federation refused his request to ban Alessandro Petacchi for a year after he tested positive for salbutamol during the last Giro.
Petacchi argued he used the substance in his asthma inhaler, for which he had a medical certificate, and that any overuse was human error.
The case is being heard by CAS in April.