Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Basso vows comeback

Ivan Basso promises to return "strong than ever" to competition following his two-year racing ban for his connection to the OperaciĆ³n Puerto doping scandal.

"I've promised my family that I will return to win the Giro d'Italia," Basso told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "A lot of people have contacted me to show their support. I already have three teams who want me."

Basso will be able to return to competition on October 24, 2008, in a decision handed down last week by Italian authorities. Basso admitted that he worked with alleged Puerto ringleader Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, although he denied actually engaging in doping practices.

"I made two errors, because I should have never going to see Fuentes and because I should have never lied about it. It's fair that I pay a high price, but I will return stronger than ever," Basso continued. "I felt trapped by the lies I was telling."

Basso was among nine riders from four teams who were kicked out ahead of last year's Tour for alleged links to the doping ring. Basso split from Team CSC last fall and was cleared by Italian authorities to resume racing.

He signed a high-profile - and controversial - contract to join Discovery Channel, but later admitted he worked with Fuentes with the "intention of doping" after Italian authorities re-opened the case.

"I've told them everything I know," Basso said. "I made five trips to Madrid and that corresponds to the five bags of blood they found."

Under current ProTour rules, he won't be able to return to one of the 20 teams in the ProTour league for an additional two years, but he says there's already interest from teams to have him back.

"I am sure I can still compete for another five or six years. And a long break can actually do me some good," Basso said. "To comeback and win, I will have to work even harder. That is my challenge."

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