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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 July 2006, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Defiant Basso protests innocence
Ivan Basso kisses the Giro d'Italia trophy on Sunday
Giro d'Italia winner Basso was one of this year's Tour favourites
Italian star Ivan Basso has denied the doping allegations that forced him out of the Tour de France and insisted he will be back racing soon.

The CSC rider was withdrawn from the race after teams excluded anyone featured in a Spanish doping inquiry.

"I will soon be up and running and winning. I am sure I will come out of this with my head held high," he told Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I'm certain I'll come out of it with no problems because I am innocent."

The Giro d'Italia champion, who rides for the team managed by former Tour winner Bjarne Riis, came second behind Lance Armstrong in last year's Tour and had been one of this year's favourites.

The team said they had total faith in me and were ready to welcome me back with open arms

Ivan Basso

But on Friday, Basso, 1997 Tour winner Jan Ullrich and Spanish star Francisco Mancebo were all implicated in a doping probe which began after the Spanish Civil Guard raided a number of addresses and found steroids, packets of frozen blood and medical equipment.

The six-month investigation, nicknamed Operation Puerta, led to the arrests of five men, including Manolo Saiz, who recently resigned as boss of the Liberty-Seguros team, now re-named Astana-Wurth.

"I have been treated like a thief but I've gone through worse than this in my life," Basso said.

"Two years ago I was doing the Tour knowing my mother was ill from cancer. Compared with that, this is nothing."

None of the riders excluded from the race has been proved to have done anything wrong yet, but all the leading teams signed an accord on 1 January 2005 which stated they would not allow a rider to compete while they were under investigation in any doping affair.

"The team told me I was suspended until my position was clarified and they had to take the decision because of the ethics code signed by the club," Basso added.

"But they said they had total faith in me and were ready to welcome me back with open arms."

Scandal-hit Tour left wide open
30 Jun 06 |  Cycling
Astana-Wurth forced out of Tour
01 Jul 06 |  Cycling
Ullrich and Basso out of Le Tour
30 Jun 06 |  Cycling
Tour de France stage guide
26 Jun 06 |  Cycling
Tour de France riders' guide
26 Jun 06 |  Cycling
Tour de France team guide
26 Jun 06 |  Cycling

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