27 cyclists face doping charges


MANTOVA, Italy -- Former cycling world champion Alessandro Ballan and 2004 Giro d'Italia winner Damiano Cunego are among 27 people indicted on doping charges.

On Friday, the preliminary judge in Mantova set a hearing date for Dec. 10 after prosecutor Antonino Condorelli's report following a lengthy investigation.

The case mainly involves past and present members of the Lampre team, including general manager Giuseppe Saronni, and centers around pharmacist Guido Nigrelli.

Disgraced former Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen, Mauro Santambrogio and Marzio Bruseghin are also among the 18 cyclists indicted.

In a statement, Lampre says it has "utmost faith in the team members involved" and that "their complete innocence of all charges will be proved."

The story first broke two years ago, following a three-year investigation by Condorelli.