Two-time world champion swimmer Filippo Magnini has been banned for four years by Italy’s national anti-doping body.
Magnini, 100m freestyle world gold medallist in 2005 and 2007, also won Olympic 4x200m freestyle relay bronze at Athens in 2004.
The 36-year-old, who retired last year, had not tested positive and strongly denied he was guilty.
“There is no proof, it’s a sentence that was already written,” Italian news agency Ansa quoted him as saying.
He added: “We will certainly appeal. We’re talking about picking on me, forcing the issue.”
Anti-doping prosecutors had asked that an eight-year ban for actual or attempted doping be given to Magnini, who is one of Italy’s most successful swimmers and once raced against two dolphins.
Magnini’s former relay teammate Michele Santucci was also banned for four years, in a case linked to nutritionist Guido Porcellini, who was given a 30-year ban in July for anti-doping violations.