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Last Updated: Friday, 27 April 2007, 07:50 GMT 08:50 UK
Wiggins welcomes Basso suspension
By Matt Slater

Bradley Wiggins and Ivan Basso
Wiggins says Basso should not race until he is fully cleared of doping
British star Bradley Wiggins has described the decision to suspend Ivan Basso as "good news for cycling".

The Discovery Channel team was forced to bar Basso on Tuesday after the Italian Olympic Committee reopened its probe into a Spanish doping scandal.

Basso must attend a hearing in Italy on 2 May to answer charges of having used or attempted to use a banned substance.

He was ruled out of the 2006 Tour de France after being named in the Spanish investigation "Operacion Puerto".

The case against him and the 49 other riders implicated in the scandal was later dropped when a judge ruled that no offences had been committed under Spanish law.

The consensus in my team (Cofidis) is that we don't want any of the guys implicated to line up at the Tour de France

Bradley Wiggins
Basso, who signed for Discovery from CSC in November, was also originally cleared of any wrongdoing by the Italian authorities.

Now, however, it is believed they have obtained bags from Spain that are suspected to contain Basso's blood and want to compare them with his DNA.

Earlier this month, a DNA sample from 1997 Tour winner Jan Ullrich, another pre-race favourite banned from last year's Tour, was matched to frozen blood seized in the same Spanish police raids.

606: DEBATE
Matt Slater

The German, now retired, has denied using banned substances but the question what his blood was doing at the Madrid clinic of controversial doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, along with anabolic steroids and transfusion equipment, remains unanswered.

Wiggins, the reigning Olympic and World individual pursuit champion, told BBC Sport he was "pleased" to hear about the decision to reopen the case into Basso's involvement with Fuentes.

"From a rider point of view, I'm delighted. The consensus in my team (Cofidis) is that we don't want any of the guys implicated to line up at the Tour de France," said Wiggins, who is among the favourites to win this year's Tour prologue in London.

Bradley Wiggins
Track star Wiggins leading GB's quartet to pursuit gold last month
"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.

"But I don't think we will ever learn the full story about what happened last year with Operacion Puerto and Floyd Landis (the Tour winner who subsequently failed a doping test). Every time something comes up they get a good lawyer and it gets dragged through the courts for years.

"I think the biggest hypocrites here are Discovery. Perhaps their decision to sign Basso is about to bite them on the backside."

Wiggins' views were supported by Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme.

"It is a responsible decision on behalf of Discovery Channel," he said.

I'm not going to give up, I'm going to carry on

Ivan Basso
"Ever since the nine bags of blood were identified as Ullrich's, it is possible to know (whose blood is in each bag). I have no doubt that the bags of blood that left Spain for Italy will provide an answer."

Prudhomme has already contacted the teams in this year's Tour to say riders implicated in the scandal will not be welcome at the race, which starts with the Hyde Park prologue on 7 July.

Basso, for his part, has always maintained his innocence and is adamant he will be cleared.

"I'm not going to give up, I'm going to carry on. I'm strong-minded," the 29-year-old told Milan-based newspaper Il Giornale.

"But I feel really frustrated. If these events had emerged in December or January everything would have been clarified now, for good or bad.

Ivan Basso
Basso has been in professional limbo since his 2006 Giro victory
"Instead, new documents have suddenly arrived two weeks before the start of the Giro. They let me train like a donkey and then they say 'sorry, please stop and explain'. That's a time-bomb form of justice."

Basso, who finished second to Lance Armstrong in the 2005 Tour, confirmed he would attend the 2 May hearing and claimed he had already given his team and the anti-doping authorities permission to use his DNA.

Armstrong, in fact, was riding for the Discovery team in 2005 when he won his seventh Tour title and remains involved with the team.

When asked about Basso's suspension, the American said: "We said all along we would do that if there was another issue. So we're living up to our end of the deal."



SEE ALSO
Cycling chiefs want doping proof
30 Nov 06 |  Cycling
Riders escape doping proceedings
27 Oct 06 |  Cycling
Defiant Basso protests innocence
01 Jul 06 |  Cycling


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