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Italian cyclist Pirazzi gets 4-year ban for pre-Giro doping

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AIGLE, Switzerland (AP) Italian cyclist Stefano Pirazzi has been banned for four years for a positive doping test ahead of the Giro d’Italia.

The International Cycling Union says the 30-year-old Pirazzi is suspended until May 3, 2021.

The UCI says he tested positive for growth hormone-releasing peptides in training one week before the Giro began in May.

Pirazzi won the mountains classification in the 2013 Giro and a stage of the three-week race the next year.

He was fired by his Bardiani CSF team within a month of the positive test.

Pirazzi can appeal against his ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

World champ Peter Sagan to race in Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Three-time world road race champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia has confirmed he will compete in the Tour Down Under in January, the opening World Tour event of the season.

Sagan won the world title last month for the third straight year, becoming the first cyclist to do so. He competed in the Tour Down Under for the first time last year, finishing second on three stages behind Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan.

Sagan, who rides for the BORA-hansgrohe team, said the six-stage Tour Down Under is “the perfect start to the UCI World Tour season each year … a challenging and tough course, warm weather and the passionate fans that cheer for us day in day out no matter what.”

Former Olympic cycling champ fired after positive drug test

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) Former Olympic road cycling champion Samuel Sanchez, who returned a positive doping test in August, had his B-sample confirmed Wednesday and was promptly fired by the BMC Racing Team.

Sanchez’s out-of-competition test revealed growth hormone-releasing peptide 2, or GHRP-2, a drug that increases a body’s level of growth hormone. Several cyclists have tested positive for the drug, among them Italian rider Stefano Pirazzi, who was given a four-year ban earlier this week.

The U.S.-based BMC Team said in a statement Wednesday that it was adhering to its zero-tolerance policy toward doping by terminating the Spaniard’s contract “with immediate effect.”

The 39-year-old Sanchez, who had been provisionally suspended, won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.