Italian gran fondo rider Baldassare Barbera (ASD AREABICI) has been suspended by NADO Italia after positive testing for Triamcinolone acetonide metabolite and chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) following a control test at the end of the Mediofondo del Golfo, on the island of Sicily on May 5 where he finished 4th overall.
Barbera also won the same event in 2017, Tour of Sicily Granfondo in 2016 and most recently the 2018 Tour ‘ta Malta stage race where he bested a field of racers from Great Britain.
Triamcinolone is a corticosteroid, which means it is often used to lessen immune responses such as inflammation. Doctors prescribe it to treat conditions such as ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, and skin conditions.
It is also the drug at the heart of the Team Sky ‘doping’ controversy involving Sir Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France winner. Team Sky said Wiggins was issued a Theraputic Use Exemption (TUE) for the drug due to a pollen allergy and therefore did not run afoul of anti-doping rules.
Former professional cyclist David Millar admitted to using triamcinolone to lose weight without losing power. He is quoted as saying the drug made him “the lightest I’d been in my career, yet I didn’t lose power—often the penalty when a rider sheds weight. Physically, I looked like a machine, muscle fibers were visible and a road map of veins crisscrossed my entire body. It made me better all around.”
The other banned drug Barbera tested positive for is Gonadotropin or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) and is medically used to induce ovulation in females and to stimulate testosterone production in males while enhancing muscle strength.
Barbera’s ASD AREABICI team issued a statement via Facebook (translated). “The company is confident that the counter-analysis and the closure of the investigation can deny the first outcome, but also declares it is not in any way part of the athlete’s possible unlawful conduct and free will. We are certain that the athlete will make himself available to the competent bodies to prove his innocence to the measure.”
He has the right to appeal the suspension at an upcoming hearing with NADO Italia.