Italy’s anti-doping chief Ettori Torri broke a two-year silence in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press and called all cyclists dopers, comments that have drawn the ire of some in the Italian cycling community.
The 78-year-old Torri — who has been on the sharp end of the legal battle to nab dopers in Italy and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde – had some harsh words about cycling.
“I’m not the only one saying it. Lately, all of the cyclists I’ve interrogated have said that everyone dopes,” Torri told the AP. “The longer I’m involved in this, the more I marvel at how widespread doping is. And I don’t think it will be eradicated. Because it just evolves continuously. There are new substances coming out that can’t be tested for.”
Torri went on to say that it’s not fair that only a small portion of riders are prosecuted if the assumption is that nearly everyone is doing something dodgy.
“It’s not fair when we single out one rider in a 100,” he continued. “If the other 99 have doped, too, but are not prosecuted, it’s not fair.”
Those comments didn’t make everyone happy in the cycling community.
Liquigas fired off a statement criticizing Torri and defending its own track record despite having its star rider, Ivan Basso, among Torri’s most high-profile conviction list. Torri helped force Basso’s admission of his role in the Operacion Puerto blood doping ring.
Others joined in, including Lampre, the Italian cycling federation as well as Filippo Simeoni, the ex-pro/whistleblower who said “cycling is doing a lot to clean up its act.”
Torri stuck by his guns, saying that doping is inevitable in professional sport and said that dopers are always one step ahead of anti-doping controllers.
“As long as doping is a viable economic option, it’s always going to exist. It needs to be made so that it’s no longer worth it economically, “ Torri continued. “Anti-doping is always behind the dopers. For example, anyone who used (AICAR) until yesterday got of. Every time we develop a test, we’ve already lost 50 percent of those who have doped with a substance.”