Freeman Cebu Sports

Basso dances the Disco

ALLEZ - ALLEZ By Jose Vicente Araneta -
While the move was certainly provocative, DISCOVERY CHANNEL's (DC) signing of Ivan Basso for 1.5M Euros per year for the next 2 years was no surprise.

When Basso was released by FASSA BARTOLO after 2003, Lance Armstrong and US POSTAL (DC before 2005) pursued the Italian. Instead, he went to CSC for less money and a sole leadership in the grand tours. Basso's decision was right for he was the only rider to legitimately challenge Armstrong in the next two tours.

When Armstrong retired in 2005, DC was left with a deepest of holes. Also at that time, Basso's 2 year contract with CSC was up and while he prospered under Bjarne Riis in the Danish outfit, there were rumors that he was going to sign with DC. But the rumors were just rumors when Basso signed an extension with CSC, spurning Lance's overtures. Still, Lance and Basso they remained close friends since their friendship went beyond cycling- it was Lance who referred Bassos' Mom to an oncologist in the US when she was stricken with cancer (and she has since passed away).

When the Giro d'Italia came in May, Basso steamrolled over the competition making him one of the two (with Jan Ullrich), if not the favorite, to win the first Giro-Tour double since Marco Pantani did it in 1998.

Then Operation Puerto broke out. Basso, Ullrich, 8 other cyclists, and a team, LIBERTY SEGUROS, were implicated and were forced out of the Tour. But five months later, none of those implicated have been charged and the investigation "shelved", technically allowing these riders to simply go on with their stalled careers. Or is it that simple as that?

There are actually two issues here and both are poles apart. First is the hypocritical stand of these scared cycling bodies who are afraid of losing their jobs and deeming those "implicated" (and not those "convicted") should be given the scarlet letter. This is a scary edict coming from people from countries who are supposed to be at the forefront in the fight for human rights outside their borders. This is an agreement that comes from the same people who were around during the FESTINA scandal in 1998 and people who have skeletons to hide. They are using these current riders as a washbasin, to clean their dirty hands.

Second is the stand made by DC to hire Basso, UCI's poster boy for doping. What DC did was a kick in the shin of these bodies. For me, it's about time that somebody tell the UCI in the face and more importantly the Association of Professional Teams that their ethical agreement not to hire Basso, Ullrich, Jorg Jaschke, and all the others doesn't hold water and is not a solution the doping problem. It's about time that somebody should sign Ullrich, Jorg Jashcke and the others to get back their lost income and polish their stained credibility which were unjustly imposed upon them.

DC is also taking a big gamble here. What if Basso really doped? What if the UCI deny them entry to their races? I'd like to take my chances with DC or any team that will hire Ullrich. Remember that Armstrong likes to go to court if he feels that he is wronged. Now, wouldn't that be a royal battle! L'Equipe, the French paper owned by ASO, the organizers of the Tour, has asked, "Basso and Discovery are sure that July 7 (2007) they will be at the start in London?"

This problem is far from over. Let the games begin.


Facial care products, lotteries, government, electronics, financial institutions, wines, drugs, hearing aids, courier services, insurance, communications, car rentals, tools, cassette tapes- you name it, cycling has been there to help bring awareness to different consumer brands. But what's happening to DAVITAMON-LOTTO really take the cake. You see next year, the drug company will change the name of its team to PREDICTOR-LOTTO. Predictor is a brand named after a pregnancy test kit. This will surely add a new dimension to the phrase, "positive test".....With just over a month to go, Xerox Lauron (SPARK KLEEN) has padded his lead over Haylin Bardaje (GWAPINGS) in the quest to win the title of Cebu Cycling's Road Cyclist of the Year. A far third is RUT MACHINE SHOP's Richard Patalinghug.

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