Two Italian riders have been provisionally suspended by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and removed from their team on the eve of the Giro d'Italia for potential doping violations.
Nicola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi, who each race for the Bardiani-CSF team, returned Adverse Analytical Findings (AAFs) in out-of-competition tests on April 25 and 26 respectively.
A UCI statement confirmed both riders had been notified of the test results and "have the right to request and attend the analysis of the B sample".
The statement continued: "In accordance with UCI anti-doping rules, the riders have been provisionally suspended until the adjudication of the respective affair.
"These constitute the first and second AAFs for members of the UCI Professional Continental Team Bardiani-CSF within a 12-month period. Therefore, article 7.12.1 of the UCI anti-doping rules providing for the suspension of the team from 15 days to 45 days will be applied.
"The UCI will refer the matter to the disciplinary commission, which will render a decision against the team in due course."
A statement from Ruffoni and Pirazzi's team read: "The Pro Cycling Team Bardiani-CSF communicates its intention to proceed with the immediate removal of the runners from the team present at the Giro d'Italia and their suspension from any activity, in accordance with the provisions of the UCI.
"If the counter-analysis [B sample] confirms the positivity of the athletes, the sports club will proceed to immediate dismissal, as required by its rules, already signed by all the riders of the team, reserving the possibility of further action in order to protect their image and that of their sponsors."
Bardiani-CSF team managers Bruno and Roberto Reverberi added: "We are absolutely shocked by the news. We await the results of further tests planned by the anti-doping rules and reiterate in the strongest possible terms the intention of safeguarding the values that our sporting project has carried out in recent years."