Fabio Calabria.

Fabio Calabria.

Lance Armstrong's outing as a drug cheat and then the Australian Crime Commission's report into drug use have thrown Australian sport into turmoil.

But Canberra cyclist Fabio Calabria has to inject himself with a banned substance every day just to stay alive, let alone compete.

Calabria was diagnosed with type-one diabetes in 2001 and requires daily injections of insulin - a banned substance, according to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.

The 25-year-old has special exemption to use the life-saving drug, along with his entire cycling team, which is made up entirely of athletes with diabetes.

He opened his season in the Trofeo Laigueglia, in Italy on Saturday, riding for Team Novo Nordisk.

''Because we need insulin to survive we have a thing called a 'therapeutic use' exemption,'' he said. ''It's not seen as doping - it's just something we do the same as someone wearing glasses to be able to see. It's what we need to do in the morning before we can get up and get going.''

Calabria grew up in Florey, went to Belconnen High School and Hawker College, and moved to Italy after graduation to pursue his dream of becoming a professional cyclist.

Courtesy of his parents' Italian heritage, he has dual citizenship and joined Novo Nordisk in 2008.

He counts his victory in the New Zealand under-19 national title in 2005 as his best personal achievement, but helping teammate Glen Chadwick to victory in the 2008 Tour of Mexico as his best memory.

Calabria said the healthy lifestyle of an athlete went hand-in-hand with being a diabetic and the demands he eat well and be in tune with his body.

He wanted to be an inspiration to everyone with diabetes.

''The things you have to do to be a successful person with diabetes are similar to the things you have to do to be a successful cyclist,'' he said.

''To manage your diabetes well you have to be in tune with your body, eat regularly and healthily, so it kind of goes hand-in-hand with being a good cyclist.''

While most cyclists carry a bike computer, which provides information on cadence and speed, Calabria has an additional piece of equipment - a glucose monitor.

A sensor inserted underneath his skin relays a reading of his blood-sugar levels, which helps to prevent him from getting into a life-threatening situation.

''I always make sure I have plenty of food and drinks with me so I've never really run into trouble, because I've always been able to eat before things get out of hand,'' he said.

''Especially now with this continuous glucose monitor, which gives you pretty good warning if things are heading down so you can get some food into you before you get to where you're going to be in trouble.''