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4-month ban recommended for Di Luca

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ROME (AP) — The Italian Olympic Committee recommended Thursday that Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca be banned four months for alleged doping.

Di Luca, who has always denied doping, then announced at the world championships in Stuttgart, Germany, that he was withdrawing from Italy's team for Sunday's road race.

In a surprise doping test during di Luca's Giro win, the Olympic committee (CONI) found levels in his system that normally correspond to those of a child.

After a three-month wait, cycling's world governing body gave CONI permission Wednesday to compare that abnormal test with his other exams. CONI would not divulge the results Thursday, but indicated the findings warranted a suspension. The case now moves to CONI's disciplinary panel.

If Di Luca is proven to have doped during the Giro, he could be stripped of the title.

The abnormal test came after the 17th stage of the Giro on May 30, a climb up Monte Zoncolan that was considered the toughest in this year's race. Di Luca finished fourth, 31 seconds behind stage winner Gilberto Simoni.

The Olympic committee also monitored a court hearing in Pescara on Thursday concerning the four-year-old doping investigation known as the "Oil for Drugs" case. Pescara public prosecutor Aldo Aceto requested the case be dismissed, the ANSA news agency reported.

The case centers on Di Luca and several other athletes who allegedly received doping products from Italian doctor Carlo Santuccione, banned from 1995-200 by the Italian cycling federation.

Though CONI cleared Di Luca in the case in July, new evidence reportedly has surfaced.