Italy’s National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO) has suspended 36 year-old amateur Simone Mastropaolo (ASD Master Bike Lazio) after he tested positive for the banned substance Erythropoietin recombinant (EPO).
Mastropaolo qualified to attend the 2022 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships at Maratona Franja in June by finishing 6th in the highly competitive 35-39 year-old men’s category, won by former Tour de France rider and 2021 UCI Gran Fondo World Champion Johnny Hoogerland.
Although online results indicate Mastropaolo has only raced four times on the road this season, he achieved top results in each of his outings.
He place 4th in the medio fondo races at Granfondo Città Dei Papi on 29 May and again at Granfondo Città di Pontecorvo on 17 July. On 10 April he finished 3rd at medio fondo Città di Civita Castellana.
Compared to last year, he was having a great season – until now. In 2021 on the Italian gran fondo circuit he finished 11th at Terminillo Marathon, 11th at Granfondo Città dell’Aquila, 12th at Granfondo Velodromo di Forano, 12th at Granfondo Città di Latina and 32nd Granfondo Città di Cassino.
After Beniamino Desiderio and Armando Sevieri, Mastropaolo is the third Italian amateur gran fondo cyclist to be provisionally suspended for returning a positive test result for EPO in less than a month.
EPO is a substance banned by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), but often used by endurance athletes, including professional and amateur cyclists. It significantly increases red blood cell production, improves the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the body’s muscles and raises VO2 max.
A court hearing for Mastropaolo has yet to be scheduled, where he can present his case and receive a verdict by the Italian Anti Doping Court of innocence or guilt.