Ivan Basso is back on top at the Giro d’Italia after four years and a doping suspension. Many fans are wondering, though, if they can trust the Italian this time.
“I think so, we have all the proof that the team is racing in correct way. Clearly, I am talking for myself and my companions,” he said today, the Giro d’Italia’s second rest day. “I think that all the teams at the Giro d’Italia are doing the same controls, so we have to believe in this and give trust.”
Basso served a doping suspension after investigators linked his blood to those found in Madrid, part of an investigation called Operación Puerto. He kept his 2006 Giro d’Italia win, though it came as the Operación Puerto doping investigation was developing and it is considered as a ‘dirty’ win.
The 2006 Giro d’Italia was not the only edition that was left stained, there was Riccardo Riccò and Emanuele questionable stage wins in 2008 and Danilo Di Luca’s EPO positive after his second overall in last year.
Leading into this Giro d’Italia, there is reason to believe little has changed in cycling. The UCI stopped Basso’s team-mate Franco Pellizotti from racing one week prior due to fluctuating blood profile values and blood doper Alexandre Vinokourov is back, with a real chance to the Giro d’Italia.
Vinokourov won Giro del Trentino and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and both were met with mixed reviews. Following his win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the winner’s press conference was more like a doping inquiry than a review of the winner’s day.
“It’s not always like that, at Trentino there were fans that were applauding him, just a few days before Liège,” Basso continued.
“The fans also look in the person’s eye, not just the athlete’s results. They know how many sacrifices we are making and how hard we are riding.”
To be fair, Basso has served his suspension and is not dominating the Giro d’Italia as he did in 2006. Since returning, he has tried to be transparent by posting his training and blood values online and working with Aldo Sassi, one of cycling’s noted ‘clean’ trainers.
Sassi is sick and suffering from a brain tumour. Nonetheless, the Italian called Basso last night to talk over the Zoncolan stage, where Basso took 1-19 on his rival Cadel Evans and moved within four minutes of leader David Arroyo.
He has six more days to secure his win, and make the fans believe it is a clean one.
Giro d’Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
2010 Giro d’Italia coverage in association with Zipvit