The Italian anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri has sparked controversy by claiming that doping is widespread in cycling and unlikely to ever be eradicated.
In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, Torri also suggested doping should be legalised if it didn’t harm the health of athletes. He also said that Alberto Contador can’t just blame his Clenbuterol positive on a contaminated steak but needs to prove it.
78-year-old Torri is the former head of the Rome public prosecutor’s office and has been in charge of investigating doping in sport since 2006. His investigations led to doping bans for Danilo Di Luca, Alessandro Petacchi, Riccardo Riccò and many others.
“The longer I’m involved in this the more I marvel at how widespread doping is,” Torri said. “And I don’t think it will be eradicated. Because it just evolves continuously. There are new substances coming out that can’t be tested for,” Torri told AP.
“I’m not the only one saying it.”
Torri suggested legalising doping as a possible solution to the problem if that didn’t harm the health of cyclists. He made the suggestion because only a small number of athletes are ever caught.
“It’s not fair when we single out one rider in a 100,” he said. “If the other 99 have doped too but are not prosecuted, it’s not fair.”
“As long as doping is a viable economic option it’s always going to exist. It needs to be made so that it’s no longer worth it economically.”
“Anti-doping is always behind the dopers. For example, anyone who used AICAR (a new performance boosting drug) until yesterday got off,” he said. “Every time we develop a test we’ve already lost 50 percent of those who have doped with a substance.”
“There are always ways to use micro dosages that are not discovered in tests. These trainers are really good at their jobs and they’re able to prescribe just enough of the drug that it remains under the banned levels.”
The first to attack the Spanish system
Torri was instrumental in using police evidence from Operacion Puerto to pursue riders and his investigative work, secondary testing and questioning lead to Alejandro Valverde and Ivan Basso being banned.
He is not directly involved in the Contador Clenbuterol case but Torri said the Italian Olympic Committee investigator's office “was the first to attack the Spanish system, which was an invulnerable tower.”
“He can blame it on a fillet he ate but that’s not enough,” Torri said of Contador “He needs to prove it.”
Torri is currently working with eight Italian police districts that are investigating doping cases and according to Gazzetta dello Sport, has recently been contacted by police about a ninth and much bigger investigation.
Torri also had some blunt words for Riccardo Riccò after 50 unidentified tablets were found in his home during a recent police search. Riccò has claimed the tablets were common use medicine and had nothing to do with doping. Italian police are still analysing the tablets.
Riccò came under suspicion again after the arrest of Enrico Rossi, a former teammate and the brother of his partner Last week the Italian Olympic Committee also banned Elisa Basso, the sister of Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Basso and the partner of former rider Eddy Mazzoleni, for four years for trafficking banned substances.
“It’s called family doping,” Torri said. “It’s unbelievable.”
“But we’ll see what explanation he (Riccò) provides. He could always show that they were for his grandmother. There’s always a grandmother, a fillet or something else.”
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.