Ivan Basso may be able to return to racing three months prior to his original suspension deadline if some Italians have their way. Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Gianni Petrucci promised to study the idea put forth over the weekend at the Cyclo-cross World Championships in Treviso.
The idea for a three-month discount for the suspension that is slated to run until October 24 was headed by Felice Gimondi, and supported by others, such as Francesco Moser and Vittorio Adorni. Petrucci is looking into the idea before it could be proposed to the International Cycling Union (UCI).
Basso was handed the suspension on June 15 by the Italian cycling federation (FCI) for his involvement in Operación Puerto. The 30 year-old Italian, who did not ask for the shortened sentence, admitted extracting the blood that was found in bags labelled 'Birillo' in Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes' Madrid offices but the rider denied ever re-injecting it. Out of the others implicated in Operación Puerto, Basso has been the most noted rider to serve a suspension. During his confession he refused to list the names other riders who might be involved with Fuentes.
A shortened suspension would allow Basso to return to racing shortly after the Tour de France and allow preparation time for the World Championships, which this year is being held in his hometown of Varese. However, even with a shortened sentence there is no guarantee that the rider could find a trade team or be selected for the Italian Worlds' team. National directeur sportif, Franco Ballerini, already has plenty of high-calibre riders to select from, riders who have been working since the past World Championships in Stuttgart to prove themselves as a viable squadra azzurra leader.
Two-time Giro d'Italia champion Gilberto Simoni expressed his disbelief in the idea of a shortened sentence for the rider who added to cycling's bad image. "I do not agree with this amnesty," he said to Tuttosport. "Basso is disqualified until October 24, until then he can he can play by rules. ... He made a mistake. It is we that are paying for his errors. This entire incident has had bitter and sad consequences for cycling and our movement."
"It was a weak moment, but I am aware that attempting to dope is the same as doping," Basso noted at the time of his confession. "I will serve my sentence and return to the work I love."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto