Just days before the 10th edition of the Taiwan KOM Challenge Gran Fondo, Italian Pierpaolo Ficara (TEAM SAPURA), who finished 3rd in 2019 when the event was last held under non-pandemic restrictions, has been provisionally suspended by the Italian National Anti Doping Organisation after testing positive for Clostebol at an out of competition test on 7 October.

The suspension means the 30 year-old rider won’t get a second chance to win one of the most prestigious non-UCI events on the international racing calendar, a climbing gran fondo that attracts both amateurs and top professionals alike. The 105 kilometre route starts at sea level and finishes on the 3275 metre summit of the highest paved road in Taiwan, Wuling Pass on Mt. He Huan.

Clostebol is a performance enhancing steroid banned by the World Anti Doping Organization that is very similar to testosterone, allowing athletes to add lean muscle mass and increase their watts per kilogram output without noticeable side effects. Unfortunately for Ficara, anti-doping tests can now easily isolate and identify the performance enhancing substance. 

Ficara is the fourth Italian cyclist in recent months to be suspended after returning a positive test for Clostebol.  Andrea Magnini tested positive at Granfondo del Mugello, Marco Provera at Gran Fondo Fausto Coppi and Thomas Bergamini after winning Gran Fondo Garda Bottecchia.

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