Gilberto Simoni has retracted his claim that Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso asked him for payment in return for Basso allowing Simoni to win stage 20 of the Giro.
Simoni was questioned for 80 minutes yesterday by Armando Forgione, attorney for the Italian Cycling Federation, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I never tried to offend Basso," said Simoni, "I didn't want to damage him. I said some wrong things but I didn't want to cause him any damage. These things are part of the dynamics of racing."
Speaking on Simoni's behalf, his lawyer Giuseppe Napoleone said, "Simoni retracted: there was no talk of deals and much less of money. We made clear that Simoni is a racer, not a public relations expert nor a lawyer. It was a matter of a lack of racing sportsmanship. It was all down to interpretation: to go downhill together and then fight for the victory with a sprint was for Simoni something obvious."
The incident that was open to interpretation occurred at Basso and Simoni descended the Mortirolo in stage 20. After Simoni accused Basso of asking for money to give him the stage win, Basso claimed that he had simply asked Simoni to stay with him on the descent.
"Gilberto has confirmed the non-existence of money deals," said Napoleone. "Besides, when he was interviewed immediately after the stage, he said he was disappointed but didn't mention money.
Ivan Basso is due to give his side of the story to the federation later today.