The Discovery Channel team has suspended Italian rider Ivan Basso from racing after the Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping Procura announced they have reopened a doping investigation into the 2006 Giro d?Italia winner.
?Team management at Tailwind Sports (the management company that runs the Discovery Channel team) has requested that Italian rider Ivan Basso not compete pending further information in a new investigation coming out of Italy,? the team said in a statement said on Tuesday.
?The Italian Cycling Federation and Italian Olympic Committee conducted a full review last fall of Basso?s implication in the ?Operacion Puerto? affair, occurring prior to the start of the 2006 Tour de France, and found no evidence of any wrongdoing. Additionally, the Spanish Cycling Federation closed all disciplinary investigations, announcing that all riders implicated were free to compete. Basso was subsequently signed to the Discovery Channel squad after these findings were announced.?
?Consistent with the Team?s stated position on this issue, upon notification of the new investigation opened in Italy, General Manager Bill Stapleton and Sports Director Johan Bruyneel will not allow Basso to race pending further information.?
?We continue to stand behind Ivan and intend to cooperate with all parties involved until there is closure. It is unfortunate that this is now occurring, however, I have spoke to Ivan and although frustrated he agrees and understands with the decision we have taken,? stated Sports Director Johan Bruyneel.
?Tailwind Sports management has always maintained a zero tolerance policy in regard to performance enhancing drugs and has never had a rider test positive in more than 10 years of operations.?
?It has always been Team policy to hold our riders to the highest standards while respecting their rights and privacy. For these reasons we have requested that Ivan not race until we receive more information and this issue has been resolved,? stated Team General Manager Bill Stapleton.
Although Basso was only set to ride Fleche-Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege before the start of the Giro d?Italia on May 12, his chances of defending his Giro title do not look good.
“It’s a complicated situation. The way things are, his participation in the Giro d’Italia will be difficult,? the race director of the Giro d’Italia Angelo Zomegnan said.
“To live under suspicion is frightening and I say that without any rhetoric. I hope that the truth comes out as soon as possible because cycling can’t stand stress like this.”