Diego Ulissi will return to WorldTour racing on 6 April at the Volta al Pais Vasco after a nine-month ban for Salbutamol.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:39 PM

Following investigation, the Lampre-Merida rider was sanctioned by the Swiss Olympic Committee after the substance was found in his system during the 2014 Giro d'Italia.

Ulissi claimed the high levels of Salbutamol in his system came after using an allowed inhaler for a bronchial complaint.

Even though the tests showed he had double the limit in his system his ban was reduced after the Swiss authorities accepted the argument that there was no intent to enhance performance but that he was negligent.

After Pais Vasco Ulissi will line up for the Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallone, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Tour de Romandie before a return to the Giro.

The Italian is a dynamic and punchy rider who in 2014 picked up a stage win and third overall at the Santos Tour Down Under before going on to claim two more stages at the Giro.

It was all downhill from there but now he's back.

Ulissi brings aggression to races, particularly the latter stages. He is always a rider to watch on the right kind of course - the medium mountain to mountainous are his specialty.

Only 25, he is close to the standard of similar veteran riders like Joaquim Rodriguez and Simon Gerrans. It will be interesting to see what effect this brush with the law has on his future performances.

So far so good for Ulissi. But there is an interesting side note to this story.

Lampre-Merida is a member of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) which has a clearly defined rule stating that a team cannot sign for two years any rider who has served a suspension of more than six months.

However Ulissi is in the middle of a two-year deal with the Italian squad so the purely voluntary organisation could not intervene in any effective way to prevent the team from honoring its existing contract with the rider.

"They (MPCC) didn't want to create legal difficulties for the teams over existing contracts," MPCC spokesperson Yvon Sanquer told Velonews.

Bizarrely, If Lampre-Merida did cut Ulissi loose, he could easily have been signed by a team not affiliated with the MPCC, including Sky and BMC. He'd be a great get for any squad.

This once again highlights how ineffectual or oddly crafted the MPCC rules really are.

They appear wide open to interpretation and fail in the face of something as binding as contract law.

Even the UCI's own rules allow riders like Ulissi to fully return to racing after a suspension, effectively overruling the voluntary feel-good nature of the MPCC rules.

These conflicts need to be eliminated if the MPCC is to retain any kind of credibility as a tool in cleaning up cycling.