BASSO TO MISS ARDENNES CLASSICS AFTER ITALIANS REOPEN DOPING INVESTIGATION
Ivan Basso will not ride Fleche-Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege after the Italian anti-doping Procura on Tuesday announced the re-opening of an investigation into the Italian’s links to Operacion Puerto.
A message published on the Italian Olympic Committee website (www.coni.it), said Basso has been summoned to appear in Rome on May 2 at 3:00pm. He is accused of violating article 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Code (use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method).
According to the Italian La Repubblica newspaper, the anti-doping Procura has discovered further evidence that indicates links between Basso and Dr Fuentes, the doctor suspected of master-minding a doping ring that stored and cleaned rider's blood in a Madrid clinic.
La Repubblica claims the anti-doping Procura has also obtained the bags of blood, suspected of being Basso’s, from Spain, and want to compare them with Basso's blood through a DNA test. In a recent investigation carried out in Bonn, Germany, DNA tests confirmed that nine bags of blood seized in Spain belonged to 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich. He has retired from racing but is still under investigation.
Several Italian newspapers on Tuesday published details of fresh accusations printed in Spanish magazine Interviu. The weekly magazine claimed Basso traveled to Madrid in November 2005 to undergo blood tests with Marino Batres, one of the doctors who worked with Dr Fuentes and was also placed under investigated in Spain. The magazine claims that Basso paid €35,000 for treatment in 2004, and €6000 for a ‘Siberia tax’, suspected to be the freezing of blood in the laboratory. He was supposed to pay €70,000 for treatment in 2006 but this was to be ‘agreed individually’, while a message received by Fuentes talked about a Zurich bank account.
Basso was not available for comment immediately after the announcement, but did not travel to Belgium as planned on Tuesday morning. A report on the Gazzetta dello Sport web site (www.gazzetta.it) said Basso decided not to race in Belgium in agreement with the Discovery Channel team to; “avoid the psychological and public image damage that an eventual exclusion could cause.”
Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel was expected to be in Belgium on Tuesday afternoon for a meeting with the organizers of the Tour de France, ASO. They announced on Friday that they do not want Puerto riders to start this year's Tour.
Because Basso is now under investigation he is expected be suspended indefinitely by the Discovery Channel team in accordance with the UCI ProTour charter and so would not bee able to ride the Giro d'Italia that starts on May 12.
"It's a complicated situation: his particiaption in the Giro d'Italia is becoming difficult," Giro d'Italia race director Angelo Zomegnan said on Tuesday afternoon.