Italian sports minister comments on Puerto

By Jean-François Quénet in Frascati With Frascati being close to Roma, the location of the stage...

By Jean-François Quénet in Frascati

With Frascati being close to Roma, the location of the stage finish made a convenient trip for the Italian minister for sport, Giovanna Melandri, and the magistrate in charge of the Italian revival of the Operación Puerto case, Ettore Torri, to pay a visit to the Giro.

Melandri made her feelings about the doping issue clear. "Behind the doping, there is a huge market, there's an international traffic around a criminal circuit," she said. "In Italy, we have an important history of drugs in sport. We're also one of the very few countries – France is another one – with an anti-doping law.

"About Ivan Basso, it's up to the sport and civilian justice to apply the law. The world of cycling must have the courage to enter the courts. Focus and determination are needed to turn the page on doping."

Ms. Melandri was amazed by the enthusiasm of the crowd in Frascati, and she knew it was the same for every town in which the Giro has landed. "When I see the crowd and especially the number of young people who are here for the race, I'm convinced that [the cyclists implicated in Operación Puerto] this isn't the model for the new generation."

She called for a globalization of the antidoping laws and even for the eventual "reduction of the sanctions", should they favor the investigations. "The WADA code is also expected to be improved and we are fully behind the process of a better fight against drugs, especially at the level of the European Union where our law, as well as the French one, is considered as an example to follow."

In Italy, new laws regarding social doping are being drafted at the Ministry of Health, but there are doubts about the application of the existing law in the case of Basso.

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