Cyclist suspended 2 years for doping
ROME ” Former Giro d’Italia champion Ivan Basso received a maximum two-year doping penalty Friday from the Italian cycling federation.
Basso acknowledged involvement last month in the Spanish blood-doping probe, known as Operation Puerto. He confessed to “attempted doping,” but said he never actually went through with it.
“I accept the sentence,” Basso said. “I’m going to continue to train and plan to return in 2009. I’ve got to look to the future.”
The 29-year-old rider was accused of using or attempting to use a banned substance or method, and “possession of banned substances and methods.”
Basso was already suspended for nearly eight months by his teams this year and last, so Friday’s penalty will expire on Oct. 24, 2008.
The two-year ban satisfies the request of the International Cycling Union, or UCI, and exceeds the 21-month suspension that Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) doping prosecutors recommended last month for the 2006 Giro winner.
The UCI said it would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if Basso wasn’t banned for two years.
Before the sentence was issued, Basso told the federation’s disciplinary panel he deserved to be sanctioned for doping “mistakes,” but asked for a lenient penalty.
“I know I made mistakes and I deserve to be punished,” Basso told the panel. “Judge me according to the rules. Don’t judge me because of my name and the things that have been said and written about me.
“Because of this I missed races and lost contracts. I hope the punishment is fair and I can return as soon as possible.”
During the hearing, Basso’s lawyer, Massimo Martelli, said his client was “the first world-class cyclist in history to make this sort of admission.”
He noted Basso never tested positive in his career and he’s already been suspended for nearly eight months, either by his teams or voluntarily.
Basso presented the panel with a dossier of more than 60 doping tests the UCI administered on him during his career, all of which came back negative.
Olympic committee chief prosecutor Ettore Torri maintained Basso’s collaboration has not been not complete. But Torri noted the rider provided the name of a courier, Alberto Leon, who is believed to have brought sacks of blood between Basso and the doctor at the center of the probe, Eufemiano Fuentes.
“I told them everything I knew,” Basso said.
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