"I want to get back to talking about clean riders again"
By Shane Stokes
Olympic track pursuit champion Bradley Wiggins has welcomed the decision taken by Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) to reopen the investigation into Ivan Basso. Speaking to BBC Sport, he said that he and others on the Cofidis team agreed with the efforts to get to the bottom of the Operación Puerto affair.
"From a rider point of view, I'm delighted," he said. "The consensus in my team is that we don't want any of the guys implicated to line up at the Tour de France. And, from a cycling fan point of view, I'm pleased as well. Because the last year has been a mess. I just want to get back to talking about clean riders again."
The Briton said that he was uncertain that the full picture would ever emerge. "I don't think we will ever learn the full story about what happened last year with Operación Puerto and Floyd Landis. Every time something comes up they get a good lawyer and it gets dragged through the courts for years.
Wiggins has long been outspoken against doping in the sport. He described Discovery Channel's decision to suspend the Italian as "good news for cycling," but was strongly critical of the US squad for taking on a rider who had been implicated in Puerto.
"I think the biggest hypocrites here are Discovery. Perhaps their decision to sign Basso is about to bite them on the backside."
Discovery Channel were roundly criticised by several other team managers when they signed the 29 year-old rider late last year. It was felt that taking on a rider who had not been definitively cleared from wrongdoing broke the ethical code within the sport.
At the time Johan Bruyneel defended the decision, saying that he was satisfied that Basso was innocent. "It was not only this year, but last year that we were interested in Basso," he said at a team conference held on December 2, the same day as the presentation of the 2007 Giro d'Italia.
"This decision [to eject riders] that was made at the Tour was a rushed decision and maybe not made by qualified people," he stated. "I am an ex-rider, but when there are matters I don't understand I ask others. Before we signed Ivan, I talked to lawyers, and the FCI and CONI made their decisions. If they all said this [Basso is approved to race], then who am I, who are you, the press, to say otherwise?"
"I feel confident with my team. We made a decision to sign Ivan and it was not a one-day thing, we did our homework, we followed the rules, and I hope that everyone else does this in making their decisions."