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“I’d be Pinocchio if I said that doping has been defeated but now the use of sleeping medication is worse and a more widely used. It affects the person rather than the athletes."

Photo: Sirotti

KATUSHA ALPECIN

TEAM PROFILE
|
NEWS

LUCA PAOLINI

RIDER PROFILE
|
NEWS
29.12.2015 @ 08:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Massimo Besnati has expressed concern about the use of sedatives by cyclists. The Katusha team doctor claims it to be more widespread than doping.

 

“I’d be Pinocchio if I said that doping has been defeated but now the use of sleeping medication is worse and a more widely used. It affects the person rather than the athletes. What makes things worse is using it with alcohol: it has an explosive effect. It’s terrible,” Besnati warned.

 

“Riders take it because of the stress, for the progressive fatigue of stage races. Now that there are no longer pharmaceutical recovery products, riders, who refuse to use natural herbs, struggle to recover. When you’re too tired, you struggle to get to sleep. Look at the last week, they’re all skin and bones.

 

“It’s especially widespread amongst young riders. They drink a lot. While we’re talking about it, I’ll add another thing: ‘Snus’ – putting tobacco in your mouth. It’s has an exciting effect that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you look carefully you can see riders with red, swollen gums.”

 

Besnati knew about Luca Paolini's use of sedatives. Two days ago the experienced rider admitted that he is addicted and then turned to cocaine. Besnati tried to discourage Paolini from taking sleeping pills. 

 

“I’d spoken to people near him but there was nothing we could do. He told us not to worry and said he’d be okay without it. I stopped giving him the prescription but he still managed to get hold if it," he said.

 

“Of all the benzodiazepine drugs, lormetazepam creates the worst addiction. You start with 10 drops and then go to 15,20, 30… and up to 100. It’s an endless escalation. If you try to stop, like with every drug, its creates abstinence problems.”

 

“He used coffee. He brought a little coffee machine to races and drank five or six cups before coming down to breakfast, 180-200mg of caffeine. That was needed to fight the effects left by the sleeping medication. But then you have to increase the dose and its like a dog chasing its tail.”


Paolini has not been sanctioned yet. La Gazzetta reports that the UCI requires a two-year suspension for his positive test for cocaine at the Tour de France but the Ghent-Wevelgem winner plans to fight his case during a UCI anti-doping tribunal hearing.

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