Ivan Basso was handed a two-year suspension June 15 by the Italian cycling federation (FCI) for his involvement with the Eufemiano Fuentes doping ring but the former Discovery Channel rider continues to make appearances in racing-related events. Earlier this week, he was at the presentation of the Tre Valli Varesine and he will be on his bike in front of the fans when the Giro delle Valli Cuneesi starts today in Cuneo (Piemonte, Italy).
The 29 year-old Italian has been invited to ride pre-race for the fans in the first stage of the five-day amateur stage race according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. He will use the 145 kilometres from Cuneo to Carrù as training before the riders race the same parcours.
The appearance underlines Basso's love for the sport but it also sends mixed signals from a rider that has never fully admitted his guilt. Basso was faced with evidence contrary to his earlier statements to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) during its investigation and was put in a position where he had to confess. The details of Fuentes' operations were sparse and the next day before the press he watered down his involvement.
"In my career I have never used doping products or resorted to blood transfusions," said Basso May 8. Investigators found blood bags in Madrid marked for the 29 year-old Italian but he claimed that although he had the blood extracted he never had it transfused.