December 6 date set for disciplinary action
"Is it so difficult to acquit an innocent person in cycling?" stated Giampaolo Caruso in an open letter sent out yesterday. The 27 year-old Italian faces a disciplinary hearing with the Italian cycling federation (FCI) on December 6.
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) recommended a suspension of two years for Caruso (Lampre-Fondital) on June 3. He rode for Liberty Seguros and Astana in 2006 when he was linked with Operación Puerto and forced to stop riding. However, the Spanish federation authorized the winner of a 2003 Tour Down Under stage to return to racing. Last fall, he signed with Lampre, and rode for the team at this year's Giro d'Italia.
"I write from the heart because I think we have reached a point of total madness," he continued. "I feel the victim of a power struggle between CONI, the [Italian] federation and the UCI [International Cycling Union].
"I did not receive a salary for six months; I did not compete for five months, from when Fuentes' case was discovered I have raced only occasionally. Maybe because I am one of the 'non-famous' I am not able to have a voice and I am left in limbo. I find the situation crazy and absurd."
Caruso, although cleared by the Spanish federation, has fought with his own country's federation. "Now, the thing most dramatic is that in the meantime the rules of CONI-FCI anti-doping justice have undergone changes ... I requested timely action, and they respond or a lot of times they don't know what action to take – after 140 days from the date of deferment [July 4 - ed.] I am still waiting for justice.
"I think that no one really has the courage to acquit me given the madness it would create in Italy in regards to this question of doping. There is a huge fear to acquit an athlete because of the possible infighting it could create between CONI, the federation and appeals court, or any other institute."
Also on December 6, the FCI will hold a disciplinary hearing for Alessandro Kalc. CONI recommended a life sentence for 50 year-old, ex-mountain biker for his involvement in Operación Puerto. The Italian allegedly worked as a courier and a contact for the riders in Italy to communicate with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.