Basso facing lengthy ban

Basso facing lengthy ban
By Eurosport

25/05/2007 at 14:45Updated

Italian rider Ivan Basso is facing a 21-month ban for attempted doping, the Italian Olympic Committee confirmed on Friday.

CONI'S doping prosecutor asked for the punishment as he deferred the case to the disciplinary commission of the Italian Cycling Federation, who are almost certain to rubber-stamp the request.

Basso, the 2006 Giro d'Italia champion, admitted to attempted doping earlier this month and told authorities he had been implicated in the Operation Puerto blood doping scandal in Spain.

However, the former Discovery Channel rider denied ever taking performance-enhancing drugs or actually using blood transfusions.

"CONI has asked for Ivan Basso to be disqualified from competitive activity for 21 months, having considered the appeals that this was a first violation," the organisation stated.

Italian media had speculated that Basso's decision to cooperate with the authorities might lead to a lenient sentence but CONI, which acts as Italy's anti-doping body, has still clamped down.

The news of Basso's punishment came hours after Dane Bjarne Riis became the first rider to admit having used performance enhancing drugs while winning the Tour de France.

Riis, who won the race in 1996, said he used drugs between 1993 and 1998.

Germans Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag also admitted on Thursday to using blood-boosting substance erythropoietin (EPO) in the mid-1990s.

Earlier this month Basso, 29, told a packed news conference in Milan he was only guilty of an intention to use blood doping.

"It is only attempted doping. In my career I have never used doping substances or transfusions," he said. "I will serve my punishment and return to racing."

He was guilty 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".

CONI's statement on Friday said that as a result of findings relating to Operation Puerto, Basso had also been charged under article 2.6 concerning "possession of prohibited substances and prohibited methods".

Basso was forced to miss last year's Tour de France as one of more than 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.