Evans defends Alessandro Ballan's explanation for ban

Former Tour de France winner backs teammate

In a semi-private press conference in Adelaide during the Tour Down Under’s rest day, BMC captain and former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans was quick to share his thoughts over ex-teammate Alessandro Ballan, who had his BMC Racing team contract torn up after receiving a two-year ban by the Italian Olympic Committee anti-doping tribunal.

"I don’t know all the details," Evans told limited media sources including Cyclingnews. "The only thing it appears to me is that [cycling] must be the only profession in the world where looking after your health and trying to be healthy can ruin your career and all but ruin your life."

Ballan’s lawyers assert that he had undergone ozone therapy to treat cytomegalovirus, a genus of the herpes virus, but not a performance-enhancing blood transfusion. "As far as I understand he was trying to treat his health," said Evans, who has battled his own health issues over the past two years. “Having had a virus, I understand. You have to be healthy and that’s not whether you are a bike rider or not, it’s us as humans. The most important thing in our life is our health."

Evans, who after a solid second-place showing at the Australian men’s National Road Race Championship earlier in the month, looks to be in the best form since his 2011 win at the Tour, says that rest is what helped him turn his condition around.

Ballan, the 2008 UCI world road champion, was found guilty of violating article 2.2 of the WADA code and is banned until 16 January, 2016. The 34-year-old’s doping infractions were committed during the spring of 2009 while riding under contract with the Lampre squad.

In addition to his two-year ban, Ballan is also faces criminal proceedings along with 28 other riders, trainers, pharmacists and directeurs sportifs. The trial is set to resume on January 24.

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