Winner of two stages during the Giro d’Italia, Diego Ulissi now faces a fight to avoid a suspension after he tested positive for the substance salbutamol during the race.

Ulissi’s Lampre Merida team has announced the news and said that an anti-doping control taken at the end of stage 11 to Savona revealed the presence of 1900 ng/ml of Salbutamol, almost double the maximum limit of 1000 ng/ml permitted for those using an inhaler.

The team stated that Ulissi and the team doctor Carlo Guardascione had declared prior to the race that he would use the Ventolin inhaler during the race. According to Lampre Merida, two puffs lead to an equivalent amount of 100 ng of salbutamol.

“The use of Ventolin is permitted and was necessary because Ulissi was suffering from bronchospasm,” stated the team. “As usual, all previous assumptions of Ventolin had been correctly declared.”

Ulissi also declared that he was taking paracetamol after an early crash in the event.

The 24 year old Italian rider had a very impressive campaign, winning stages five and eight and moving to sixth overall. He lost time on stage 11 and slipped down the general classification standings, but bounced back to take second in the Barolo time trial on stage twelve.

However he became ill and eventually withdrew from the race prior to stage 18.

Lampre Merida states that he has been suspended by the team and will miss a planned Italian national team training camp. He will attend the opening and analysis of his B sample.

“The athlete himself and the medical staff of the team will continue to explore the reasons why the urine has been identified as having an abnormal and high presence of salbutamol after only two inhalations being performed,” said the squad.

It noted that the rider ‘strongly rejects’ the presence of such an amount of salbutamol. It said that he had availed of a possibility in UCI and WADA regulations to undergo a controlled excretion study for the substance.