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PARIS (Reuters) - New Zealand's George Bennett was pulled out of the Giro d'Italia by his Lotto-Jumbo team on Friday on the eve of the race's start following a pre-race test which showed the rider to have low cortisol levels.
The Dutch outfit withdrew Bennett after a pre-race medical check by the International Cycling Union (UCI), employing their own stricter criteria even though the governing body's rules would actually still have allowed the 25-year-old to race.
"The team made this decision since the rider from New Zealand appeared to have a low cortisol level in a regular pre-race UCI test, which could be an indication of sub optimal health conditions," Lotto-Jumbo said in a statement.
"Today the team received an email from the UCI that low cortisol levels were measured in the regular UCI pre-race test last Thursday.
"According to the UCI, Bennett is allowed to start in the Giro.
"Team LottoNL-Jumbo is a member of the MPCC (Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Credible -- Movement for Credible Cycling) and the MPCC's rules state that riders with cortisol levels that are too low, should not race for eight days until these levels are within normal range."
Low levels of the hormone Cortisol can be explained by the use of corticoids, anti-inflammatory drugs that are allowed out of competition but forbidden during racing unless a rider is granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ian Chadband