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Smoke row gets in Ferrari chief's eyes

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has slammed claims his team's cars carry subliminal tobacco advertising as "ridiculous".

A report last week suggested the use of the barcode displayed on the Ferraris driven this year by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa was a link to long-time sponsor Philip Morris.

John Britton, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and director of its tobacco advisory group, suggested the barcode resembled the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes, and that it was "creeping branding".

Responding to the claims, Di Montezemolo said: "Frankly, I find this argument completely pointless. It is verging on the ridiculous to claim that the colour red or a graphic design which shows a barcode could induce people to smoke.

"It's best not to waste any more time replying to this sort of nonsense, or to those who are instrumental in wanting to stoke up the story."

McQuaid serves up doping lesson

The experience of Italian Ivan Basso during his two-year doping suspension should serve as a salutary warning for riders who consider cheating, International Cycling Union (UCI) chief Pat McQuaid said.

The UCI on Monday requested disciplinary proceedings against Franco Pellizotti, who finished second in last year's Giro but will now miss this year's event which starts on Saturday, after his biological passport revealed suspicious blood data.

Basso, Pellizotti's compatriot and Liquigas team mate, was banned from 2006-08 for his involvement in the Operation Puerto blood doping scandal.

"Basso told me his world had changed," said McQuaid.

"Now he has regained the respect of the fans. But during his suspension, his wife had to wear sunglasses to take their children to school. He said that when he looked his children in the face it was difficult for him to figure out what they thought of him."