Latest: Basso and Scarponi heard; Tour of Ireland
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 11.00pm
Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi were both heard by CONI as part of the reopened Puerto investigation
Basso to be questioned again; Scarponi says yes to DNA
Ivan Basso's hearing before the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) will be reconvened at a later date, following his questioning at CONI's headquarters in Rome on Wednesday. Neither Basso nor his lawyers would reveal much about what transpired during the two hour session, but it's expected that the next hearing will take place before the start of the Giro on May 12. Basso is under suspicion of being involved in the Operacion Puerto
affair as the codename 'Birillo' or number 2. CONI opened an investigation into him last year, but closed it due to lack of evidence. Since then more information has come out of Spain, including a program for blood transfusions and payments, as well as blood analyses carried out on 'Birillo' in Madrid. CONI prosecutors are interested in taking a DNA sample from Basso in order to compare with the blood bags that they have obtained from Spain. But at yesterday's hearing, no decision had been made by either CONI or Basso regarding him giving a sample. Another Italian, Michele Scarponi, was questioned last year as part of the same CONI investigation into Puerto
. Scarponi returned to Rome for a hearing on Wednesday morning. The 27 year-old told the press afterwards that "nothing new happened. I notified them of my availability for a DNA test. I said what I knew. I'm optimistic and very calm." Last year, Scarponi was part of the Liberty Seguros team (later Astana), which was managed by Manolo Saiz, who was among those arrested when Puerto
broke. Scarponi now rides for Acqua e Sapone, who haven't suspended him despite his involvement in the inquiry. Scarponi expects to take part in the Giro d'Italia. In other Puerto
news, UCI president Pat McQuaid thinks it will take the rest of the year to determine which riders could be sanctioned. The UCI hasn't yet seen the full 6000-page dossier compiled by the Spanish investigation. "We don't know what is in there," McQuaid was quoted by AP
as saying. "There is no way to know that until the judge makes his decision." The Spanish case is still open, pending appeals. It's said to involve 107 cyclists. New Tour of Ireland launched
The Tour of Ireland, a brand new UCI classified stage race, was launched in Dublin on Tuesday. The race will run between August 22nd-26th this year, with a peloton of approximately 126 riders. It will start from Kilkenny Castle and finish in Dublin's Merrion Square. The race is ranked as 2.1 on the European Tour, which means it's open to top teams. It's expected that a number of Ireland's professional racers will take part, including Philip Deignan and Nicolas Roche (Crdit Agricole), David McCann (Colavita), David O'Loughlin and Ciar n Power (both Navigators Insurance), current Irish road race champion, Paul Griffin (Giant Asia) and the Irish based Murphy and Gunn team. The race is being promoted by The Events Group together with Shade Tree Sports, with Failte Ireland providing the majority of funding. "This event will provide an ideal opportunity to showcase Ireland to an international audience," said John O'Donoghue, the Irish Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism. "Cycling holiday-makers represent a significant niche market and Ireland, with its diverse country-side and spectacular scenery, has much to offer our cycling visitors." RTE will be covering the event live every day with repeat highlights every evening presented by Jimmy McGee and Phil Liggett. Programming will be seen on the Versus Channel (formerly the Outdoor Life network) in the USA, and coverage will extend to Britain, mainland Europe, Australia, South Africa and Japan. Stage list Stage 1, August 22nd: Kilkenny Castle - Cork via Clonmel, Carrick On Suir, Lismore and Middleton (160km) Stage 2, August 23rd: Clonakilty - Killarney via Skibereen, Bantry, Glengarriff and Kenmare (167km) Stage 3, August 24th: Tralee - Ennis via Ballybunion, Foynes, Limerick City Centre, Killaloe and Tuamgraney (190km) Stage 4, August 25th: Galway - Galway, a circuit taking in Cong, Westport, Louisburgh, Leen un before returning to Galway city (212km) Stage 5, August 26th: Athlone to Dublin via Mullingar, Kinnegad and Enfield, finishing in Dublin over 10 laps of a circuit on Merrion Square (135km) Official site: www.tourofireland.ie
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