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Italian Cycling Champion Gilberto Simoni  Withdraws From Race - 2002-05-24

The defending champion of the Giro d'Italia, Gilberto Simoni, has withdrawn from the race - the latest victim in a growing doping scandal in Italian cycling. 30-year-old Gilberto Simoni, the Saeco cycling team's captain, won the 11th stage in the Giro d'Italia Thursday, but withdrew from the race Friday.

The team manager, Claudio Corti, said Simoni discussed the matter with team officials. The manager said events of the past two days led the team to take the action. Earlier this week, Simoni was told a doping test carried out in April, during another race, had come out positive. Simoni says an injection of anesthetic at the dentist could be the reason for that result. His dentist confirmed that Simoni had undergone dental treatment and been anesthetized the day he was tested for doping.

But further tests are now scheduled after the end of the Giro.

Simoni was ranked third overall in the race when he withdrew, but organizers said the cyclist could not continue to race because his presence would have challenged the credibility and prestige of the Giro d'Italia.