Basso denies taking drugs

Basso denies taking drugs
By Reuters

08/05/2007 at 13:52Updated

Giro d'Italia champion Ivan Basso told a packed news conference in Milan that he had never used illegal substances or blood transfusions but was guilty of attempts at doping.

He said: "It is only attempted doping. In my career I have never used doping substances or transfusions.

"I will serve my punishment and return to racing," said the Italian who added he was limited in what he could say for legal reasons.

The 29-year-old told the Italian Olympic Committee on Monday that he was involved in Spain's Operation Puerto doping scandal and would collaborate fully with CONI's probe.

Basso has been accused of violating article 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Agency Code concerning "use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method".

Basso, who said he had collaborated with CONI out of respect for his fans, family and the world of cycling, added that he had not named any other cyclists in his discussions with the doping authorities.

"The details are in the papers of CONI and cannot be made public," he said. "I was not asked the name of any other cyclists involved. Only I spoke and exclusively about my position."

Basso emphatically denied that his 2006 Giro victory was fuelled by illegal methods and said he was keen to return to a sport which has been badly tarnished by a number of doping allegations in recent years.

He would not comment on the length of a possible ban but said he believed he would receive the right punishment. Italian media has speculated that his assistance to the authorities may mean he is given a more lenient punishment.

"I am aware that also trying to dope in the laws of sport means you are responsible. There are rules and preset sanctions," he said.

Basso was forced to miss last year's Tour de France as one of over 50 professional riders implicated in Operation Puerto.

The Spanish investigation was launched after police raids in Madrid and Zaragoza found large quantities of anabolic steroids, blood transfusion equipment and more than 200 bags of blood.

Basso, who quit the Discovery Channel team last week, had previously stated he was a victim in the investigation and maintained his innocence.