On Monday 19 September, Italian amateur cyclist Fabio Cini, one of the country’s best amateur gran fondo riders and winner of the 2021 Maratona dles Dolomites, added a comment (now deleted) to a Eurosport Italia Facebook page saying his 2022 season was a flop due to his name being added to the Italian National Anti Doping Agency’s (NADO) Registered Testing Pool (RTP).
The RTP anti-doping program maintains a biological passport for each athlete and subjects them to possible anti-doping tests 24 hours a day 365 days per year at any location without advance notification. Athletes included in the RTP are primarily professional athletes, plus elite amateurs aspiring to turn pro, that NADO has decided to closely monitor. Amateur gran fondo athletes are rarely included, unless NADO has reason to suspect they might be doping.
Currently 286 Italian athletes are in the NADO RTP, but only three are amateur gran fondo cyclists – Fabio Cini, Tommaso Elettrico and Onofrio Monzillo – who was just banned 3 years for using EPO.
RTP participation requires athletes to supply whereabouts and contact information on a quarterly basis each year to ensure availability of anti-doping testing at all times. Athletes who do not file and/or update their whereabouts status or neglect to appear for mandatory testing are deemed to have failed a test. Three or more whereabouts failures within a given year is considered a violation of anti-doping rules, requiring the athlete be banned from competition like former World Champion Aigul Gareeva.
In other words, if you are doping and in the Registered Testing Pool you will be caught.
The 34 year-old Cini (ASD Capitani Minuterie Metalliche) was added to the RTP after an amazing 2021 season where he won eight top gran fondos and his close teammate, Vincenzo Pisani, was caught using the banned drug Erythropoetin (EPO).
In 2022 while under the watchful eye of NADO, Cini has struggled to achieve the same dominating level of performance as the previous year. His results have been sporadic, at best, as he noted in his Facebook comments above. Also, at the Italian Gran Fondo Championships he finished 5th, behind an American 10 years his senior on holiday in Italy. At the 2022 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Trento, on a course where Cini has won before, he did not make it into the Top 10, crossing the finish line over 18 minutes behind the winner.
Cini’s closing words above, “we’ll take our revenge!!”, seem to imply his 2023 season will be much better results wise – assuming NADO removes his name from the RTP program and he is no longer subjected to anti-doping tests anywhere, anytime and without notice…