Ivan Basso has asked to be released from his contract with Discovery Channel, effective immediately, the team announced on Monday. The Italian met with general manager Bill Stapleton and sports director Johan Bruyneel on Sunday, and the three came to an agreement. Basso cited “personal reasons related to the re-opened investigation by the Italian Olympic Committees (CONI).” “This was a very difficult decision, for me and my family, but I think it is the right thing to do,” said Basso. “Johan, Bill and my teammates have always believed in me and shown me great respect. This decision is my way of showing them that same respect. The Team is trying to find a new sponsor and win bike races, and my situation is a distraction to both of those goals. It is important that everyone knows this was 100% my decision. Nobody asked me to leave. I am grateful to all of the staff and riders and wish them the best of luck.” Basso is facing a re-opened investigation by CONI relating to his alleged involvement in Operacion Puerto. He is due to appear on Wednesday to answer questions. He had already been suspended by Discovery pending the outcome of the inquiry. “Ivan’s request was unexpected and he was very emotional, but adamant, about his decision to be released,” said Bruyneel. “We spoke with him at length before granting his request. Although he was only on our Team for a short time he was a great leader and a very well respected and selfless teammate. I, along with the entire Team, wish him the best.” Bill Stapleton said that he was confident the team would continue to win races without Basso, and would be competitive in the Tour de France. “When we signed Ivan, all the necessary governing authorities had cleared him,” said Stapleton. “He deserved a Team and we had always wanted to sign him. We did our due diligence and we have no regrets.” Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.
Ivan Basso and Discovery Channel have officially parted ways, at the instigation of the Italian ride