By Andrew Hood
Ivan Basso says he’s not worried about Spanish officials possibly re-opening the Operación Puerto blood-doping investigation because he’s “already paid his price.”
Basso, making his season debut this week in the Tour de San Luís in Argentina, told the Spanish daily MARCA that he’s already turned the page after serving a racing ban.
“I’ve already paid the price with two years. I had a process in Italy and they’ve already punished me,” Basso said. “I’ve had two processes; the sporting and civil justice, and I’ve paid in both parts.”
Basso returned to competition last fall with the Japan Cup after serving a two-year ban, reduced by Italian authorities for “time served” from July 2006 until he signed with Discovery Channel.
Basso, 31, has since penned a two-year deal with Liquigas and will make a much-anticipated return to the Giro d’Italia in May.
Basso won the 2006 Giro just weeks before the cover was blown on his involvement in the Operación Puerto doping scandal.
After denying his role, Basso eventually succumbed to pressure and admitted that was the “Barillo” mentioned in the Puerto files. He confessed to working with alleged ring-leader Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, but stopped short of a full confession, insisting that he only “intended to dope.”
“What can I say? When you do something bad, you have to pay the price,” Basso continued. “What happened to me wasn’t a question of luck. I did something wrong. I was guilty, but now my conscience is clear because I’ve paid the price.”
Asked what he learned from his Puerto experience, Basso said honesty is the best policy.
“If you’re not 100 percent honest, you end up paying,” he said. “Not just in sport, but in everything. The truth is always the best path.”
To demonstrate that he’s on the correct road, Basso began working with Italian trainer Aldo Sassi last spring.
Sassi, who works out of the Mapei Training Center and who’s renowned to be a strong voice against doping, agreed to work with Basso following several meetings with the repentant rider.
Basso’s profile and test results can be seen at www.mapeisport.it (registration required).