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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Cycling News Flash for May 8, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

Basso: "It was only attempted doping"

By Gregor Brown

Ivan Basso refused to name names
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

"It was only attempted doping," said 29 year-old Ivan Basso to a conference room full of journalists and photographers in Milan's Hotel Michelangelo. The 2006 Giro d'Italia winner called the press conference following his admission of involvement in the Operación Puerto blood doping scandal.

Yesterday, after months of denial, the former Discovery Channel rider admitted that the bags of blood labeled 'Birillo', which were seized in the raid on Fuentes' clinic, belonged to him. After agreeing to cooperate with Italian Olympic Committee's (CONI) anti-doping prosecutors, Basso denied having ever actually used the blood.

"In my career I have never used doping products or resorted to blood transfusions," Basso claimed, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Basso, dressed in a light blue dress shirt and jeans, calmly denied using any doping products, although he refused to deny his involvement with Fuentes and the subsequent Operación Puerto.

While admitting that his actions deserved punishment, Basso claimed that all of his victories were achieved without doping, and insisted that he will return to the peloton. "I will serve my suspension and then return to race. I know that returning will make me feel better; I think that the group will accept me," said Basso. "I am fully aware that an attempt at doping is tantamount to doping, but I am asking to be excused for this and that should be enough," he stated.

While Basso's dominant performance in the 2006 Giro d'Italia, where he won by more than nine minutes over José Gutierrez, led third-place finisher Gilberto Simoni to describe him as an 'extra-terrestrial', Basso insisted that he won the race without resorting to using any illegal methods. "All my victories were obtained in an honest manner and nobody can contest what I achieved in the 2006 Giro d'Italia no more than the other results I achieved during my career."

Ivan Basso surrounded by photographers
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Basso refused to be drawn into listing other names but instead wanted to speak for himself. "I can't vouch for the honour of my colleagues, who wins honestly, like I have always done.

"There is talk about how I am a repenter, or a collaborator. I want to clarify that I was not asked about the other people involved, further, I don't know of riders or other people involved."

He reflected on his decision to involve himself with Fuentes. "It was a weak moment, but I am aware that attempting to dope is the same as doping. I will serve my sentence and return to the work I love."

He finished by commenting on his family. "I will assume my responsibilities, confronting my family, who has stood beside me in my decision."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)