Former Tour de France champion Marco Pantani had his eight-month doping suspension lifted by the Italian cycling federation's appeals commission on Saturday.

While it's too late to get him into the Tour de France, which Pantani won along with the Giro d'Italia in 1998, he is now eligible for an immediate return to competition, including the upcoming world championships.

The sanctions against Pantani resulted from an investigation conducted on banned substances found when police raided team hotel rooms during the Giro d'Italia last year. Police seized a syringe filled with insulin from Pantani's room; Pantani maintained that the insulin was not his.

Insulin can potentially give athletes an edge by facilitating the flow of growth hormones to aid in building muscle and improving endurance.

It was not a first offence for Pantani, the last man to win the Tour de France before Lance Armstrong's current reign. In 1999, he was thrown out of the Giro d'Italia after a failed blood test.

The cycling federation said an explanation of the lifting of the suspension will be issued next week.