Niccolò Mornati (left) has failed a doping test and faces missing Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Italy's five-time World Championship rowing medallist Niccolò Mornati has been suspended and faces missing the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after testing positive for a banned drug normally used for treating breast cancer, it has been announced. 

Mornati, who has claimed three silver and two bronze medals in coxless pairs, coxless four and coxed eight events at five different World Championships, is also a three-time Olympian who finished fourth with pairs partner Lorenzo Carboncini at London 2012.

He had already qualified in the same event for Rio 2016, where he was due to team up with Vincenzo Capelli.

The duo finished fourth at the season-opening World Rowing Cup on home water in Varese earlier this month.

But he failed a test for the breast cancer drug anastrozole on his return from a training camp in South Africa shortly beforehand, it has now emerged.

The product, which has rarely produced positive tests before, is listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List as a banned hormone and metabolic modulator and can be used as a testosterone masking agent.

Niccolò Mornati (left) finished in fourth place at the London 2012 Olympics ©Getty Images
Niccolò Mornati (left) finished in fourth place at the London 2012 Olympics ©Getty Images

The 35-year-old is the brother of Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) deputy secretary general Carlo Mornati, who is set to be head of the Italian delegation at Rio 2016.

This shows how seriously they are treating doping problems in the sport, according to CONI President Giovanni Malago, who announced the failure in a specially convened press conference.

His failure comes after Vincenzo Abbagnale, a former under-23 world champion and stroke of the Italian eight, was announced as having missed three doping tests.

He now faces a 16-month ban.

Abbagnale, ironically, is also related to a key Italian administrator, being the son of Italian Rowing Federation head Giuseppe Abbagnale.

Rowing has suffered less doping problems than some other sports, but the Russian Rowing Federation was handed a year's ban in 2008 after seven doping offenses in a 12 month period.

This followed analysis of substances and equipment found dumped in a bin close to the Russian team hotel in Lucerne in July 2007.