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Former world champion Ballan banned for two years

PARIS (Reuters) - Former world road race champion Alessandro Ballan has been handed a two-year ban after he was implicated in a doping ring, the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) said on Friday.

The Italian BMC rider, who won the 2008 world title on home soil and the Tour of Flanders the previous year, is one of several former and current Lampre team riders and staff associated with a doping investigation in Mantova, Italy.

The Italian Anti-Doping Tribunal found him guilty of violating article 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Agency code relating to the "use or attempted use of banned substances".

Ballan was fired by BMC on Friday.

"BMC is terminating the contract of Alessandro Ballan. In accordance with the BMC Racing Team's strict anti-doping policy, Ballan is no longer a member of the BMC Racing Team," team general manager Jim Ochowicz said in a statement.

Ballan, who joined BMC in 2010, had already been provisionally suspended by the team in April that year but was allowed to return to action the following month when the investigation seemed to stall.

Also involved in the review are pharmacist Guido Nigrelli, who was banned for life, and physician Fiorenzo Egeo Bonazzi, who was handed a four-year suspension.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by John O'Brien and Ken Ferris)

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