Paolo Zani, the CEO of the Liquigas company that sponsors the Italian cycling team, has revealed plans to sue Ettore Torri, the head of the Italian anti-doping prosecutor's office because of his suggestions that doping was rife in cycling.
Zani told Gazzetta dello Sport that Liquigas will sue Torri for five million Euro because his comments have damaged the success of Ivan Basso at the Giro d'Italia and Vincenzo Nibali's victory at the Vuelta a Espana.
"Liquigas feels it has the right to defend itself. With what he said, Torri has caused us huge damage to our image," Zani said. "Our lawyers are studying the matter and in the next few days we'll begin legal action against Torri: we want five million Euro as compensation for the damage to our image."
Torri did not specifically name any of the Liquigas-Doimo riders during his interview with the Associated Press news agency.
However he played a fundamental role in forcing Ivan Basso to confess his involvement in Operacion Puerto in 2007. Torri is currently investigating Franco Pellizotti, who was snared by the UCI Biological passport just before this year's Giro d'Italia. Liquigas-Doimo has fervently defended Pellizotti, who claims his blood value fluctuations are physiological and has questioned the legality and precision of the Biological Passport screening process.
Pellizotti is due to face a disciplinary hearing on Thursday in Rome and risks a two-year ban from the sport.