Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) is to write to the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) seeking clarification on the reasoning behind its decision to bar former dopers from representing the country at the world championships.
The measure, passed by the FCI’s federal council in June, prevents riders who have served doping bans of six months or more from representing Italy at international level and from competing in the national championships. Basso is among the riders affected by the by-law as he served a two-year suspension for his collaboration with blood doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes in the wake of Operacion Puerto.
“I’ll write a letter to the federation. It hurts me not to be able to ride the Italian championships or the Worlds,” Basso told Gazzetta dello Sport. “The ban angers me and it’s hard to explain. I need to understand the reasoning behind it. I’m always thinking about it, and whatever way you turn it, I find something that doesn’t square up.”
Other riders to fall foul of the FCI measure include Michele Scarponi, Alessandro Petacchi, Davide Rebellin and Danilo Di Luca, with the latter even launching an unsuccessful legal bid to race the Italian championships in June.
“I’ve contributed to cause harm to this sport and I am ashamed of it,” said Basso, who confessed only to having intended to dope under the supervision of Eufemiano Fuentes. “However, I’ve since contributed to do good, based on three principles – honesty, fairness and transparency. Now I need to understand why the federation is denying me these two races.
“They must give me explanations, but they must be very convincing. If I have to stay out for the good of the sport, then I’ll step aside, but before that, I want to go all the way. Cycling needs credibility, and thus also clarity. I want clarity, without causing confusion.”
Basso denied that he would consider formulating a legal challenge to the FCI regulation, and insisted that he was simply seeking an explanation. “Mine is an emotional problem, not a legal one,” he said. “I don’t need a lawyer or a legal expert. If they explain to me why I mustn’t ride, I’ll step aside.”
The Italian, who won the 2010 Giro d’Italia in his second full season back after suspension, insisted that he has already paid enough for his misdemeanours, and recalled the widespread opposition that had greeted Liquigas’ decision to sign him in 2008. “It’s easy to talk now, but before [Liquigas management] Paolo Zani and Roberto Amadio used to have to go into meetings wearing helmets,” Basso said.
Basso, who turns 34 on Sunday, travels to Liquigas-Cannondale’s first training camp of the winter at the Passo San Pellegrino. The man from Varese will begin his 2012 season at the Trofeo Laigueglia in February, as he builds towards the Giro d’Italia.