Former Giro d’Italia champion Ivan Basso, suspended for his involvement in the Operacion Puerto scandal, has signed a two-year contract for 2009 and 2010 with Liquigas, the Italian team announced on Thursday.
The 30-year-old Italian’s two-year suspension is scheduled to end on October 24. While Basso was origianlly banned on June 15 of last year, he had already spent 243 days under suspension. That figure, however, does not include time he spent as a member of the Discovery team.
Liquigas president Paolo Dal Lago said that having served his time, Basso deserves a new opportunity to resurect his career.
“Ivan Basso has served his suspension with dignity and has maintained a responsible, calm attitude characterised by the seriousness which has won over the public and his fellow professionals,” he said.
Basso won the 2006 Giro and finished on the Tour de France podium in 2004 and 2005.
Officials, however, excluded Basso from the 2006 Tour when he and several other top cyclists were named in connection with the Puerto case. He was soon fired by his CSC team, but continued to maintain his innocence. He was later hired by Johan Bruyneel to ride as a member of Discovery.
Basso eventually left that team and confessed to “intending” to dope when officials at the Italian National Olympic Committee demanded a DNA sample from him in order to compare it with blood seized in the Puerto case.
“Basso is Italy’s most talented cyclist,” Dal Lago said. “We will help him to regain his form as we firmly believe that we can help him to achieve the standards of excellence of which he is capable. “