Cycling: Basso Suspended, New Anti-Doping Campaign

Two stories of note from the world of cycling today. On the same day that Ivan Basso is suspended for two years the International Cycling Union unveils a new anti-doping campaign.

Basso, who won the 2006 Giro d’Italia, received his suspension for his involvement in the infamous Operation Puerto blood doping scandal that rocked the sport last year on the eve of the Tour de France. Basso has repeatedly denied having doped, but did recently admit that he “attempted” to dope at one point, apparently being unsuccessful in that attempt. The ray of sunshine in all of this for Basso is that he is receiving credit for time already served under suspension and will be eligible for reinstatement in October of 2008.

Meanwhile, the UCI dropped the details on their new anti-doping campaign today as well. The main focus of this campaign is the “Riders’ Commitment to a New Cycling” in which professional riders will sign a declaration proclaiming that they won’t dope. The names of the riders who sign this petition will be posted on the UCI website for the whole World to see, and presumedly damning any rider that signs it and then fails a test, to eternal shame in the public eye. Oh yeah, and one other thing! Anyone who signs it also agrees to donate an amount of money equal to their salary to the UCI anti-doping fund. Maybe that will get them to take it seriously. Those who sign also make their DNA available to Spanish authorities in the on going Operation Puerto investigation as well.

Any efforts to clean up the sport are a good idea, but seriously, is there any sport, anywhere in the World, that has a worse problem with illegal, performance enhancing drugs? Barry Bonds would be a choir boy compared to some of these guys it seems. Here’s hoping they make some strides towards getting everything under control, but until they do, the winners of every major race will be called into question.

Kraig Becker

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