By Susan Westemeyer and Hedwig Kröner
Italian prosecutor Ettorio Torri will ask Ivan Basso to submit a DNA sample next week to compare to blood taken in Operación Puerto - samples which Torri is allegedly already possesses.
According to todoclismo, Torri was quietly visited by members of the Guardia Civil several weeks ago, and based on their visit, reopened his investigation of Basso, with no public announcement. He asked the Guardia Civil to send him a complete report, including documents, transcripts, receipts, and tests of blood analysis. The prosecutor also asked Judge Serrano to allow Italian investigators to come to Madrid and take small samples from four bags of blood allegedly linked to Basso.
Still without any public announcement of any sort, the investigators reportedly went to the anti-doping lab in Barcelona last week, where the bags of blood are being stored. They took samples from two bags, which were identified with the name "No. 2", and which were dated January 12, 2006, and November 11, 2005. They also took samples from two bags under the name "Barillo", from August 8, 2005, and December 15, 2005.
Torri has meanwhile received the report and documents he requested, and based on these findings, has extended the invitation to Basso to meet with investigators on May 2.
He will also forward a copy of the report to Brescia, Italy, where prosecutor Maria Cristina Rota is investigating Basso's sister and cyclist Luca Paolini for trafficking in doping substances.
Meanwhile, Basso' lawyer Silvio Martelli continued his defense work, saying that the rider was being "massacred", and that he still relied on the ruling by Spanish judge Antonio Serrano from March 29, which said that the documents are subject to international letters rogatory. "On May 2, we will go to Rome and hear the accusations. If there is anything new, we will take note of it and verify if the information has been acquired legitimately. However, I know that the prosecutor's office works on a basis that it defines as 'anonymous'," Martelli told tuttobiciweb.
The lawyer also insisted that not only Basso should be investigated if this prosecution should go ahead. "There are 223 blood bags, of which nine have been attributed to Ullrich," he continued. "And we know that a total of 58 riders are implicated. If the UCI and the institutions want to make an anti-doping case out of this, we have to identify at least 150 blood bags. If we want the doping problem to be resolved, we have to ask all of the riders to submit to this examination together [give their DNA for comparison - ed.]. Not only Basso should be investigated."
At least concerning this last point made, almost all parties seem to agree. With the UCI, the IOC, WADA and also the race organisers like ASO backing the idea, some of the teams have also already spoken out on favour of it. "If we have to go with our team to Madrid [to remove suspicion], we will deliver 29 riders there," T-Mobile technical director Luuc Eisenga told Cyclingnews after a meeting between Flèche Wallonne organiser ASO and the teams in Charleroi on Tuesday evening. "That is us going a little bit further, but we hope that other teams are willing to do the same."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto