Milan: Last year`s runner-up Franco Pellizotti is set to miss the Giro d`Italia starting in Amsterdam this Saturday because of a doping issue, the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) said on Monday.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) was due to issue a statement later amid media speculation there were problems with the biological passports of several riders.
"There is confirmation that it is Pellizotti but I haven`t seen the UCI communication so I don`t know the exact details. I believe he will miss the Giro," FCI president Renato Di Rocco told reporters.
Pellizotti`s team, Liquigas, had no comment on the matter.
Pellizotti came third in the 2009 Giro but was promoted to second after original runner-up Danilo Di Luca was suspended for two years after testing positive for the banned blood booster CERA during the race.
Cycling, especially in Italy, has been rocked by a long series of doping scandals in recent years.
"It`s a great shame. He represents our biggest team and it`s just a few days from the Giro," Di Rocco added.
"But of course the Giro and cycling go on. There will be over 500 doping controls on the Giro. Let`s hope this is the last case but it certainly hurts cycling."
Organisers of the Giro, the sport`s second-biggest stage race after the Tour de France, were hoping for a fresh start by starting the three-week race in the Netherlands.
The route then snakes around Italy but big names such as Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong have chosen not to compete, further damaging the race`s credibility.