Gilberto Simoni, the two-time Giro d'Italia champion and winner of this year's Giro stage to Monte Zoncolan, is the latest ProTour rider to sign the new UCI anti-doping charter which was released last week. "I signed the declaration," said Gilberto Simoni from his home in Palù di Giovo yesterday. Simoni was the first Saunier Duval rider to add his name to the list of riders.
"I do solemnly declare, to my team, my colleagues, the UCI, the cycling movement and the public that I am not involved in the Puerto affair nor in any other doping case and that I will not commit any infringement to the UCI anti-doping rules," reads part of the statement that Simoni signed. "At the same time, I declare to the Spanish Law, that my DNA is at its disposal, so that it can be compared with the blood samples seized in the Puerto affair."
"This doping problem that torments cycling cannot continue. We need to do it, we are being pulled along in this incredible affair," Simoni continued in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. He has just finished the Tour de Suisse and will now focus on mountain bike racing with events in Villabassa (July 7), Les Deux Alpes (July 14), pointing towards the Worlds (August 12).
"We cyclists do more and more. Now we have to be accountable 365 days a year? This is not a problem. I don't have a problem to say 'yes,' I will give my availability every day, every hour. They can come and take controls at any moment, also at night, if it helps to leave this situation behind. If it serves to remove the doubts and bitterness... We will not hide behind the past; we can look to the future.
"We don't count for anything, we are only the pawns in the game," he continued on the cyclists' stance. "However, I want that cycling leaves this as soon as possible. I have nothing to hide; this is my sport and I signed. I get upset with the certain groups that have created the doping problems. I am not talking of the individual cases but of the organized cases that create doping to win and make money; I am thinking of Festina and Operación Puerto."
Though Simoni is 35 years-old he still has the desire to push forward. "From when I was 18 years-old I have gone strong on the climbs, always with the first. I still have this strength and I am able to continue."
Along with Simoni, there are another eight other Italians who have signed the UCI agreement. They Italians are Francesco Bellotti, Pietro Caucchioli and Angelo Furlan (along with the entire Crédit Agricole team), Alessandro Cortinovis and Sergio Ghisalberti (Milram - but not Petacchi), Lorenzo Bernucci, Giuseppe Guerini and Marco Pinotti (and the entire T-Mobile).
However, yesterday, President of the Association of Italian professional riders (ACCPI) Amedeo Colombo encouraged his riders not to sign the agreement. "It is not right to sign this declaration," he stated.