Monday, May 7, 2007

Basso confesses his involvement in Operación Puerto

According to the Gazzetta dello Sport's Valerio Piccioni, Ivan Basso has confessed his involvement in Operación Puerto to the antidoping prosecutor Ettore Torri of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). Today in Rome, CONI issued communiqué saying "Ivan Basso has largely admitted his responsibility relative to Operación Puerto and has provided the maximum collaboration to clarify the facts relative to his involvement."

Basso and his lawyer Massimo Martelli met with Torri for two hours in a legal office in the centre of Rome, where the confession of the winner of the 2006 Giro d'Italia winner came of his own accord.

The head of the Italian cycling federation Renato Di Rocco applauded Basso's decision to collaborate, telling the Gazzetta dello Sport, "Ivan has done exactly what everyone asked of Pantani, and Marco didn't do; now, we ask in the name of cycling to not leave Ivan Basso alone."

Although no further information has been released by Torri or the Italian Olympic Committee, there is speculation that Basso may receive a retroactive two-year suspension that could allow him to come back in time to ride the 2008 Giro d'Italia.

On Sunday, prior to today's announcement, Cyclingnews spoke with UCI president Pat McQuaid concerning speculation that a deal might be done between Basso and CONI. "There is no provision for a reduced sentence," he said then. "The WADA rules apply and the minimum sentence is two years, whether it is for admittance or non-admittance of an offence. The only time when you get less than two years is if you can prove it was mistaken or it was taken in foodstuffs, that kind of thing. But if you have been willingly involved in a doping activity, it is two years.

"I don't want to speculate on it [prior to such a deal being agreed - ed.], but the option is there for either the UCI or WADA to appeal to CAS."

Ivan Basso has not yet issued a statement, but a press conference is expected on Tuesday.

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