Venice sees its first ever gondolier doping scandal

Venice sees its first ever gondolier doping scandal after prize-winning rower is stripped of his award after testing positive for marijuana

  • Renato Busetto tested positive for marijuana following Venice Historical Regatta
  • Is banned from Venetian rowing for 13 months and stripped of runner-up prize
  • His lawyer called the decision ‘unfair’ as anti-doping regulations not cited in Regatta rules

A gondolier in Venice found with marijuana in his system during a regatta last month was stripped of his second-place win today and banned from competing for over a year.

In the first such ‘doping scandal’ to hit the world of Venetian rowing, Renato Busetto had tested positive for marijuana following the city’s annual Historical Regatta on September 4.

Today, Venice’s Technical Disciplinary Commission determined that the gondolier be sanctioned, the local Nuova Venezia e Mestre newspaper wrote.

Besides sitting out the sport for 13 months, Busetto will have to relinquish his runner-up prize earned alongside his brother in the twin-oared ‘gondolini’ race, the regatta’s most popular.

Venetian gondolier Renato Busetto, who was found with marijuana in his system during a regatta last month, was stripped of his second-place win today and banned from competing for 13 months (stock image)

A lawyer for Busetto, Gianmaria Daminato, called the decision ‘unfair’, saying that anti-doping regulations referred to by the commission were not cited in the regatta’s participation rules.

As word got out last month that the commission was investigating the two top teams in the regatta, the winners of the race – Rudi Vignotto and son Mattia – posted their own negative tests on Facebook.

Hundreds of boats fill the Grand Canal and Saint Mark’s Bay during the centuries-old Historical Regatta, which includes parade boats and competitions involving rowing academies and associations.

Rowers in the ‘gondolini’ race – which is a lighter, faster version of a gondola painted in bright colours – sport the traditional striped T-shirts and white trousers as they compete to the finish line.

The regatta revised its website on Wednesday, indicating only the first, third, and fourth-place winners in the twin-oared ‘gondolini’ regatta.

Rowers in the ‘gondolini’ race – which is a lighter, faster version of a gondola painted in bright colours – sport the traditional striped T-shirts and white trousers as they compete to the finish line. Pictured: File image of a gondolier passing by the Regatta in 2020

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