<
>

Basso says he will compete again soon

7/1/2006

ROME -- Italian cycling champion Ivan
Basso, who was withdrawn from the Tour de France on Friday
because of doping allegations, says he is being treated like a
thief but he will soon be competing again.

"I am certain that I will come out of this with my head
held high. I will soon be up and running and winning. I can do
it," Basso said in an interview with Italy's Gazzetta dello
Sport.

"I have been treated like a thief ... but I've gone through
worse than this in my life. Two years ago I was doing the Tour
knowing my mother was ill from cancer. Compared with that, this
is nothing."

The Tour de France was stripped of three of its biggest
names on Friday after Basso together with Jan Ullrich and
Francisco Mancebo were implicated in a doping probe in Spain.

The CSC team withdrew Giro d'Italia winner Basso when teams
decided to exclude anyone who featured in the investigation
from the Tour which starts on Saturday.

"They told me I was suspended until my position was
clarified and they had to take the decision because of the
ethics code signed by the club," he said.

"But they said they had total faith in me and were ready to
welcome me back with open arms."

The doping scandal erupted last month after the Spanish
Civil Guard raided a number of addresses to find large
quantities of anabolic steroids, laboratory equipment used for
blood transfusions and more than 100 packets of frozen blood.

Race organizers ASO on Friday said it was in possession of
a list of more than 50 riders involved in the probe after being
handed a 37-page document by the Spanish Cycling Federation.

"My lawyer ... is trying to get hold of this document, no
one knows where the hell it is, then he's going to read it and
I am sure that I will come out of it with no problems, because
I am innocent," Basso said.

Basso finished second in last year's Tour behind American
Lance Armstrong. Ullrich was third and Mancebo fourth. Basso
said he was going straight home to his wife and family.

"I will continue to go out on my bike, because that's my
job, even if I'm not doing the Tour," he said.