Wed 31 Jan 2007
This website has been archived and is no longer actively maintained.
Wed 31 Jan 2007
This website has been archived and is no longer actively maintained.
Sun 10 Dec 2006
This site will close on January 31.
I would like to note that this decision has nothing to do with any opinion I might have about the guilt or innocence of Ivan Basso. As far as I am concerned, he is innocent until proven otherwise. But the decision is, of course, Operation Puerto related and the hypocrisy of the sports governing organizations on the one hand, and the reactions of a lot of riders on the other.
We do not know whether Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, or any of the others accused in Operation Puerto doped or not. We do, however, know that someone - very likely quite a large number - of riders have doped. Despite this, many riders are pretending as if nothing happened this summer - no doubt hoping that if they lay low, the storm will eventually pass and we can get back to “business as usual” next year. It is incredibly disappointing to find that many riders seem to believe that everything is fine as it is, and seem to have no interest in working for a cleaner and fairer sport. This lack of reaction is particularly selfish and disappointing when it comes from riders who have been implicated in Operation Puerto, and thus have suffered both unjust treatment and ought to have an interest in cleaning up the sport.
At the same time, the sport’s governing authorities are leading the fight against doping in a manner which appears both ineffective and hypocritical. Apparently, riders are to be punished without trial, and rules that apply to one do not apply to others. The initiatives of the few (CSC and T-Mobile) are left unsupported by the sports governing bodies, who prefer to punish rather than prevent.
A while ago, I wrote two articles for DailyPeloton.com:
For me, Cycling lost its attraction the day it became obvious that even today, eight years after the Festina affair, systematic doping is still wide-spread in the peloton. I don’t believe that doping will ever be eradicated, but I do believe in a clean sport. Cycling is not a clean sport, and while I will work (where possible) for a clean sport, I will no longer run this webpage nor support the sport in other ways, until significant reforms are implemented.
This blog will no longer be updated, but will be archived on my personal domain for the foreseeable future.
Mon 4 Dec 2006
Basso prepares for the Giro-Tour double in 2007, as a row with his former employers at Team CSC looms. The disagreement stems over whether Basso did, or did not, offer Team CSC a DNA test against the blood from Operation Puerto, after Bjarne Riis recently commented that if Basso had offered a DNA profile, he would have been allowed to stay at Team CSC.
Basso claims that he did, commenting: “It was not this difference that ended our agreement; during the investigations of CONI I gave my word to give DNA. There where many things written in the press, but basically my relationship [with Riis] had changed.” (Ivan Basso back on the road - with Discovery Channel [CyclingNews])
But Brian Nygaard (PR boss at Team CSC) is surprised at that comment.. “Earlier, his lawyer has commented that Basso will never do a DNA test as long as he is defending him,” Nygaard said.
But Nygaard hints that for CSC, the situation around the DNA profile was critical. “For us, it is a question of whether you are willing to do everything to prove your innocence, or whether you have to be requested to do so.” According to the interpretation of several media, the supposed situation that Basso was hesitant to do a DNA, is therefore likely the reason for the break from CSC. This is supported by other comments from Nygaard:
“Simply from the fact that this discussion [about whether or not to do a DNA test] could even become relevant, both parties decided that it would be best not to continue our partnership,” Nygaard is quoted as saying.
Basso himself claims that his performance on the road will show whether or not he doped.
“Most people have been behind me in the four months that I was forcefully banned from racing. To all of them I want to say one thing: wait until I return to the major stages races to see what I’m capable of. It is the only possible way of showing that my implication (in Spain) was a total nonsense. My name has never appeared in this Spanish investigation,” Basso is quoted as saying.
Regardless of the situation, it seems the controversy of Operation Puerto will cast its shadows far into the 2007 season.
Thu 9 Nov 2006
Ivan Basso’s lawyer recently released a strong statement regarding Basso and the media’s comments on his involvement in Operation Puerto. In it he states Basso’s intention to fight for his reputation legally.
“The recently repeated judgements and comments in the Italian and international media regarding OperaciÃ³n Puerto, especially regarding Ivan Basso, require a strong and definitive reaction. The reality is that these opinions and statements are in direct contrast to the results of all the judicial and sporting justice cases that have happened.
“The result of these cases is that Ivan Basso has been cleared of any supposed violation of rules, regulations or law and that Basso currently has no pending cases criminal or civil cases against him regarding doping. And that any declaration for the necessity of blood tests for DNA or other values we consider to be an illegal and inadmissible intrusion to his private life. Thus, any declaration that Ivan Basso that says that there are limits or conditions to prevent Basso for racing for a “ProTour” team or participate in “ProTour” competitions are discriminatory and against the current rules,” Martelli stated.
In doing so, Martelli seems to be implying that Basso and the Discovery Channel team would fight against any demands by the UCI or AIGCP that Basso should submit DNA to ride in the ProTour. In making this statement, Basso joins a number of other Professional riders that have been highly critical of the proposed DNA tests such as Alejandro Valverde and Paolo Bettini.
The UCI is moving ahead with plans on a DNA-testing policy this friday; it remains to be seen what the results of these deliberations will be, with the Cycling world seeming to be increasingly divided on the matter.
Wed 8 Nov 2006
It is now official that Ivan Basso will join Team Discovery Channel on a 2-year contract.
Mon 6 Nov 2006
Ever since the announcement that Ivan Basso would leave Team CSC, Bjarne Riis has kept himself out of the limelight. But returning this weekend from a vacation with his family, Riis finally gave an interview to the press.
“Whatever happens in the case, I lose. I lose. I have lost my credibility, gotten beat, risked losing my team, and I have lost the best Cyclist in the world,” Riis tells the Danish daily BT. “When he was acquitted, I knew what I had to do. Because the problem is that the case in Spain isn’t over, even if people seem to think so. We don’t know what will happen, although I fear that everything will simply end in nothing; that a decision is never reached.”
Bjarne Riis has been criticized in the media for not standing forward and explaining himself after the break with Ivan Basso, but Riis dismisses the criticism. He feels that such demands would never be put on the chief executive of a regular company, which is what he considers himself. Thus the Danish team owner refuses to comment the detailed reasons for his breaking the contract with Ivan Basso, although the interviewing journalist speculates (based on Riis’s behaviour) that a major motivating factor was to attempt to restore the credibility of Team CSC.
Another factor that was brought up in the interview was the personal cost the case has had for Riis. “I take so much time from my family,” Riis says. “I couldn’t defend it [keeping Basso] toward them. They are the most important people in my life. I don’t spend enough time with my family as it is, and if Ivan was to stay, it would have demanded even more effort and time; time, I would have had to take from my family. At some point, I have to say ‘enough’”.
Riis is dissatisfied with the fact that Ivan Basso can now continue, without hindrance, on another team and perhaps in the future win the Tour de France. He does not feel the case against Basso is closed while the Operation Puerto investigations are still ongoing. “I tried to encourage that there be more solidarity in the sport at the closure of the ProTour [i.e., that the teams present a united front]. But I have to face the fact that there is no such thing. Everyone is only thinking of themself.”
“I can only say that I have sent a clear signal to the world and to the Cycling community of where I stand on the matter. I feel it is my duty to do so, and I do so in my way. Then others will have to do so however they want.”
To rebuild the credibility of Team CSC, Bjarne Riis has intensified the anti-doping efforts on his team and plans to hire the renowned anti-doping researcher Rasmus Damsgaard (as previously mentioned on these pages). Riis is enthusiastic about Damsgaard’s plans, and doesn’t fear that the work of Damsgaard and intensified anti-doping measures will result in less results for Team CSC; saying that he will leave the sport if he turns out to be wrong.
“The cleaner the sport becomes, the better my team will become,” Bjarne Riis says. “That is my spark; it is what keeps me going.”
Tue 24 Oct 2006
Ivan Basso hopes that he will have the opportunity to return to Team CSC in the future.
“Bjarne and I parted as friends,” the former Team CSC star states in a recent interview with Danish daily Politiken. “And I hope that I will be able to return. We concluded that it would be best to part for the moment, but there is nothing that rules out that we may pick up our cooperation at a latter date.”
Ivan Basso also expresses understanding for the conduct of Bjarne Riis over the past couple of months. “I do not believe that Bjarne wanted to treat me poorly. He was forced to act as he had done. I know and understand that he has the well-being of the whole team to think off,” Basso comments. Basso admits that right after the suspension from the Tour de France, he felt very unfairly treated. “I feel that at the very least we (the riders accused) should have had the chance to let our lawyers review the case, before a decision of such significance for a rider be taken.”
Ivan Basso confirmed that he is still looking for a team, although he noted that if he were only interested in money, he would already have signed a contract. However, he is delaying the decision while studying the circumstances of the various teams he is considering.
Giovanni Lombardi, Basso’s teammate at Team CSC who is retiring after this season, has confirmed that he intends to start working as an rider agent in the future. Among the riders that he is likely to be representing are, in addition to Ivan Basso, also Franck and Andy Schleck.
Tue 24 Oct 2006
Persistent rumors are now sending Ivan Basso to the Discovery Channel team, despite earlier protestations by the team that they would not be interested in Ivan until he is cleared. Thus, several newspapers are reporting that Basso has already signed a contract, while others state that he will be receiving a contract offer in just a few days.
Meanwhile, Ivan Basso was monday feted in Rome, where he received his trophy for the victory in the Giro d’Italia. He used the opportunity to comment the exclusion from the Tour de France.
“It really hurt me,” Ivan Basso commented. “But I will have my vengeance next year when I ride both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.” Basso also commented that he would announce his new team within the next couple of weeks, and confirmed that Discovery was one of the teams in the picture. Barloworld has also confirmed that it has given Basso an offer.
Mon 23 Oct 2006
Everything has a beginning and an end; but I hope that for myself and for Team CSC, these events are merely a new beginning. An important period of my life is closed, on a sporting and on a human level. Important years, filled with progress and moments of triumph. Years that have been intense both from both a human and sporting perspective, where I have been able to measure myself, to grow and to improve, in a team that I have felt deeply attached to - my team. But, as often happens, the moment arrives to take a new direction in the game, to change, and to try new roads.
With Riis, I have had a special relationship, and even in parting, I feel that I am saying my farewell to a special person. Even as we parted, a signal could carry the import of many words; the rapport between us has not been lessened despite the trying times. But why then have we parted? We parted because this is the best for both of us. We have achieved greatness together, and perhaps it is the time to show the world that we can also achieve greatness individually, one without the other. I believe there is a benefit to this, of showing that we can achieve things seperately.
At this point, I can not do other than to thank Bjarne for the confidence that he put in me three years ago. Thanks to CSC, the world-leading company that has proved a perfect partner; without interfering in the present business. A special thanks to my team mates, who have dedicated themselves to my cause without a thought of saving anything for themselves with uncommon generosity and professionalism. Thanks also to all of the staff, without exception. I can only say on thing, that you give me the ideas of what I want to go for; I may change team, change environments, and return to the race, but wherever I go I hope to find as much professionalism, as much passion, and as much self-sacrifice in the attainment of your objectives as I have found from my colleagues at Team CSC. I wish all the best to Bjarne and Team CSC. Thanks from the depth of my heart, and win the big one.
Translated to English from IvanBasso.it. All typos and errors are mine, of course.
Wed 18 Oct 2006
In a press statement from Team CSC today, it has finally been made official.
Team CSC and Ivan Basso have decided to terminate their contract by mutual agreement.
â€œAfter all that has happened, especially this summer, Team CSC and Ivan Basso have agreed to part ways. It has been a very difficult decision, but both parties agree it is time to move on. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Ivan for his time with the team and for the great results he and the team have achieved together. At the same time, we wish him all the best for the future,â€ says Bjarne Riis.