La Gazzetta dello Sport wrote that the samples, which were taken during the 2003-2004 season, exceeded the limits set by WADA, the world anti-doping agency.

According to WADA, high levels of haemoglobin and of other blood substances, signal the possible use of EPO. The drug must also be present in urine samples to confirm its use by athletes.

Earlier this week, however, public prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello said that the anti-doping tests performed on footballers’ urine samples have virtually no chance to trace the drug due to lack of refrigeration as they are taken to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping lab in Rome.

Guariniello said that EPO, a synthetic protein that stimulates the production of red blood cells, can be detected in urine for days if samples are kept at 4 degrees Celsius, but it disappears rapidly at room temperature.

The Anti-Doping Commission of the Ministry of Health has found that samples are transported from the stadiums to Rome according to the WADA guidelines and is evaluating the scientific value of the prosecutor’s statements. (dpa)