By Susan Westemeyer
Discovery Channel Team has declared itself to be "surprised," "disappointed and saddened" by Ivan Basso's disclosure that he was involved with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, "prior to being signed as a member" of the team. Directeur Sportif Johan Bruyneel called it "an unfortunate situation" for the team.
"I was quite surprised that Basso has now confirmed that he had in fact been involved with Dr. Fuentes," said Discovery Channel team general manager Bill Stapleton, distancing himself from the rider who left the team earlier this month. "He assured us that he was not a party to the allegations surrounding him and we required him to sign a contract stating he would provide his DNA if asked.
"As I stated prior, we did our due diligence prior to signing Ivan. Both the CONI and FCI had cleared him to race and we received assurances that he was not involved," he continued. "We did our homework on the case and this is now an issue for Basso and CONI to determine."
The team's statement, released on thepaceline.com Monday evening, stressed that the team has a "no tolerance" antidoping policy, and that "no rider has ever had a positive test during the 12 seasons the team has competed."
Bruyneel said that he was "disappointed and saddened by the events of the previous week. Ivan was hired because we believed him to have been clean. When we granted his request to be released we did so because he could no longer assure us of the outcome of his case."
"It is an unfortunate situation for us but we are committed to running a clean team and I know we will continue to win races," Bruyneel added. "This team was not built solely around Ivan."