BMC says Alessandro Ballan has no doping case to answer

Internal investigation finds no evidence of wrongdoing

Former world champion Alessandro Ballan has been given the green light to compete again by his BMC team after they said an internal investigation found him innocent of recent doping charges.

Ballan, the world champion in 2008, was provisionally suspended by the American outfit after he was implicated in a doping probe in his native Italy.

A report in the Gazzetta dello Sport daily in early April claimed Ballan was among several individuals being investigated for suspected doping while he was riding with the Lampre team in 2004-2009.

BMC said that after carrying out its own investigation Ballan -- who has not been investigated by any anti-doping authorities -- would now be free to compete.

"The BMC Racing Team could not find indications that Alessandro Ballan was involved in any doping in connection with his former team, Lampre," a statement attributed to team president Jim Ochowicz on the BMC website read Friday.

"Alessandro Ballan has fully cooperated with the Italian authorities and has provided the investigation authorities with all requested information and even more.

"Apart from that, no sporting authority has opened a proceeding against Alessandro Ballan so far. Given all these aspects, the BMC Team has no reason at all to not respect the presumption of innocence and will no longer withhold Alessandro Ballan from competition."

Ochowicz is a former Olympic cyclist who is credited with being the 'godfather' of American cycling thanks to his involvement with the 7-Eleven team in the 1980s and, later, the Motorola team of Lance Armstrong.

Recently, he and Armstrong were among several people accused of being involved in doping practices by disgraced Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his yellow jersey in 2006.

Ochowicz said last week: "These allegations are not true, absolutely unfounded and unproven."

© AFP 2010...

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