RIIS SENDS BASSO HOME
CSC team manager Bjarne Riis has confirmed that he has suspended Ivan Basso and sent him home from the Tour de France.
Riis revealed that he had seen documents from the Spanish drugs investigation that implicated Basso. He refused to say if Basso was guilty but suspended him so that he can defend his name.
“We had a meeting with all the teams and we all agreed to follow the ethics code. After that I decided that Ivan would not be participating in the Tour. We believe it’s not possible for a rider to focus on the Tour and defend himself at the same time,” Riis said.
Despite being his personal coach and manager, Riis claimed he had no suspicion that Basso was linked to the doping ring discovered by Spanish police in Madrid at the end of May.
“We’ve never had any kind of indication that he is involved in anything,” he said.
“Everything we’ve seen from him and from the UCI was in perfect order. It’s difficult to believe he’s involved but the fact is he’s on the list.”
“At the moment it’s impossible to say if he cheated or did something he’s not supposed to do. It has to be proved. Now Ivan has to go home and his lawyer has to take up his case.”
After being told he was out of the Tour Basso left his hotel in Strasbourg via a side door and did not speak to journalists. Until today he had always denied being linked to the Spanish investigations but now his career is in ruins and he has a lot to explain.
Riis confirmed that the CSC team would continue and start the Tour de France on Saturday but as agreed with the other teams, no replacement riders would be brought in.
“I want my team to go on with or without Basso,” he said.
“I believe this team has a future. We’ve decided rules and regulations with our sponsors and we have the full support from sponsors for everything we do.”
“Now it’s up to me to rebuild the moral of the other riders in the
team. We’ve got a strong team and they have to ride. It’ll be hard but
they have to do it.”