Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Strange Tale of Andrea Moletta's 2008 Giro d'Italia...

It's been a quiet day, so we thought we'd have a look at the strange tale of Andrea Moletta's 2008 Giro d'Italia...

Born in 1973 in Citadella, Italy, Andrea Moletta became involved in a mysterious doping incident during the 2008 Giro d'Italia when he was riding with the Gerolsteiner team. Moletta's father was one of three passengers in a car stopped by police at the race as part of an ongoing investigation into doping at Padua gyms and was discovered to be in possession of 82 packets of Viagra, a syringe hidden inside a toothpaste tube and a portable fridge containing unidentified fluids.

Andrea "Actually, That's The Baguette I'm Having
For Lunch" Moletta
(image credit: PCM Daily)
Viagra - not officially recognised as having any physical effects likely to be of much during a bike race (though some reports had claimed it improved athletic performance at altitudes greater than any reached on any Grand Tour, unless you're Charly Gaul*) and, due to the effects it does have, being a tricky one to hide if your job requires you to wear very tight lycra shorts - was not banned under UCI or WADA rules, but a rumour doing the rounds claimed that riders had been taking it to increase their aggression which served to increase suspicion, as did those mysterious fluids. The hidden syringe, of course, was the most damning of all.

Gerolsteiner suspended the rider pending further investogation. The fluids turned out to be an intravenously-injected substance known as Lutelef, a drug that could be used in a virtually undetectable blood doping technique but also came with a host of common side effects including a "painful, prolonged erection," leading to its use in very tiny quantities in so-called "non-prescription blue pills" used as an alternative to Viagra (generally by men who confuse ability to achieve an erection with status and thus feel ashamed to admit impotence to their doctor).

The investigation could find no suggestion that Moletta had been using Viagra, Lutelef or any other drug, so he was cleared of all suspicion. His father continues to deny that the drugs were to be used for nefarious means and no link to any doping programme was ever found. Nor was anybody, perhaps unwilling to risk damaging the Italian Stallion stereotype, willing to come forward and admit that they had a legitimate use for 82 packets of Viagra and an extremely questionable hormone should the Viagra not work its magic. To this day, nobody knows who the drugs were owned by, nor whom they were going to.

*'Cos he was off his tits on drugs all the time.

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