An argument has exploded in Italy after reports of a plot to allow Ivan Basso to ride the 2008 road race world championships in his hometown of Varese.
Basso is banned until October 24 after admitting he worked with Dr Fuentes and that he gave his blood to the Spanish doctor in an attempt to dope. However the local world championship organisers have always hoped Basso would be allowed to ride and several key figures in Italian cycling are apparently in favour of reducing his ban by three months so he race in August and secure a place in the Italian team.
According to Tuesday?s edition of Italian newspaper Tuttosport, the president of the Italian Professional League Alcide Cerato has discussed the idea of a three-month amnesty for Basso with the president of the Italian Cycling Federation Renato di Rocco and the head of the Italian Olympic Committee Gianni Petrucci.
The idea of an amnesty for Basso has split opinion in Italy cycling and sparked a heated debate.
Former Giro d?Italia and Tour de France Felice Gimondi made it clear he was in favour of allowing Basso to make an early comeback but Gilberto Simoni made it clear Basso should serve a full two-year ban.
?Ivan has already been punished enough because he?s one of the few riders really paid. What happened in Operacion Puerto has never been very clear. How many of the 200 people implicated have been punished? Few, far too few and Basso is one of them,? Gimondi said.
?He deserves to ride the world championships in Varese in front of his fans at the end of September. It?s true he made a mistake but it can happen to anybody in cycling and in sport.?
Simoni did not agree.
?I?m not in favour of an amnesty. Basso is banned until October 24 and that?s when he can make a comeback. It?s not correct to say he?s already paid enough. He made a mistake. We?re the ones who are paying for his mistake,” he said.
“Everyone in cycling is paying the bitter consequences because the doping scandals have had a terrible effect on the whole sport. A lot of people have lost their love for our sport and above all some sponsors have left the sport. It?s caused some serious damage.