Two riders from the Italian team Bardiani CSF have been kicked out of the Giro d'Italia on the eve of their nation's biggest race after testing positive in an out-of-competition doping test.
The UCI, the sport's governing body, said Thursday that Nicola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi returned positive tests for growth hormone-releasing peptides in samples collected last week.
The riders have the right to have their B samples tested but have been provisionally suspended from competition. That means neither will be at the Giro's start line Friday on the island of Sardinia.
In a statement, organisers RCS Sport said it "reserves the right to take any appropriate measure to protect the image and the name of the Giro d'Italia."
Sanctions could include suspension for a period of between 15 and 45 days of the entire Bardiani CSF squad from racing because both riders are from the same team, in line with the UCI's anti-doping rules.
Bardiani said in a statement that it "intends to proceed with the immediate suspension of the riders from the squad present in the Giro d'Italia" and from all cycling activities.
The team added that the riders will be immediately dismissed if the positive results are confirmed.
"We retain the possibility of further action to protect our image and that of our sponsors," added Bardiani.