Cyclist Andrea Piccolo sacked after arrest for transporting growth hormone. GETTY IMAGES

US team EF Education-EasyPost immediately sacked the Italian rider, stating in a press release that "Piccolo was arrested on 21 June upon entry into the country on suspicion of transporting growth hormone". The UCI said it was "satisfied with the results of the investigation carried out by the ITA".

Once more, Andrea Piccolo, 23, has put his career in serious jeopardy. After he was arrested for allegedly transporting a substance banned by the International Cycling Union, his team, EF Education-EasyPost, announced his "immediate" dismissal. Last Friday, Piccolo was detained by Italian authorities as he attempted to enter the country on suspicion of carrying "human growth hormone". 

In a public statement, the American team pledged to "fully cooperate with any investigation into this matter". It also encouraged the cyclist to be "open and honest with the anti-doping authorities."

Piccolo's past does not inspire optimism. Before this scandal broke, the Italian rider was suspended without pay in March after his team discovered that he had taken a sleeping pill that was not allowed by the team's internal code, even though it was not an illegal substance. He served the ban and returned to race the Giro d'Italia, but was forced to withdraw after crashing out on stage 19. 

At 23, he is one of the great hopes of Italian cycling. He wore the red leader's jersey at the Vuelta a España in 2023 and, before withdrawing from the Giro d'Italia, finished fourth in a stage won by Spaniard Pelayo Sánchez (Movistar) ahead of former world champion Julian Alaphilippe. Piccolo has raced 34 days this season, with his best result being second place in the second stage of the Vuelta a Colombia.

These are hard times for the Magenta rider, who will now have to wait and see how the investigation goes. He could have been a candidate for a place in the team for the Tour de France, which starts on 29 June.

The organisation also released a statement. "The search for the cyclist is the result of an investigation conducted by the International Testing Agency (ITA) in close cooperation with the Italian National Anti-Doping Agency (NADO Italia) and the Italian police (NAS Carabinieri). The UCI welcomes this cooperation and will consider any further action that may be necessary in this regard. The UCI will not comment further on this matter," it said.