Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cycling World About To Be Turned Upside Down...

Per Eurosport.com:

First, they have uncovered appproximately 50 more riders (totalling over 100) who may be in involved with the Operation Puerto scandal of last year and now Ivan Basso has left the Discovery Channel team with immediate effect after the Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping office reopened an investigation into the 29-year-old. The Giro champion asked to leave for personal reasons (personal meaning if I leave the team I won't have to provide a DNA sample that will prove my guilt) after being suspended by the US outfit last week. (They can thank Jan Ulrich since he got busted just recently when his DNA was a match in several bags of blood found before the 2006 Tour de France. Because of Jan, the entire case was reopened. Now we will see what happnes with good ol' boy Floyd!)

"This was a very difficult decision, for me and my family, but I think it is the right thing to do," Basso said in a statement.

"(Sports director) Johan (Bruyneel), (general manager) Bill (Stapleton) and my team mates have always believed in me and shown me great respect.

"This decision is my way of showing them that same respect. The team is trying to find a new sponsor and win bike races, and my situation is a distraction to both of those goals.

"It is important that everyone knows this was 100 percent my decision. Nobody asked me to leave. I am grateful to all of the staff and riders and wish them the best of luck."

Team manager Bruyneel said in the statement that he had tried to persuade Basso, who joined the team in December, to stay.

"Ivan's request was unexpected and he was very emotional, but adamant, about his decision to be released," Bruyneel said.

"We spoke with him at length before granting his request. Although he was only on our team for a short time he was a great leader and a very well respected and selfless team mate. I, along with the entire team, wish him the best."

The Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping office said last week that Basso had been summoned to appear before officials in Rome on May 2.

He has been accused of violating article 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Agency Code concerning "use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method".

Basso has denied taking performance-enhancing substances.