Italian federation president Di Rocco scolds McQuaid
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
One day after UCI president Pat McQuaid called for riders involved with Operacion Puerto to take blood tests for DNA matching, strong statements emanated from Italy in response to the request. Currently, the Spanish Guardia Civil has 200 blood bags seized from a Madrid apartment allegedly used as a blood doping clinic in an Operacion Puerto raid in May. These bags are marked by numbers and names but as yet can not be attributed to any riders allegedly involved with the investigation.
Ivan Basso, currently under investigation for his alleged involvement in Operacion Puerto by the Italian Olympic committee, will find out September 12th if his file will be passed to the Italian Cycling Federation for further action or possibly shelved for lack of evidence. Upon learning of McQuaid's declaration, Basso's attorney Massimo Martelli stated, "Frankly, I don't even know if I should respond to what McQuaid said as his statement has little importance. As long as I am defending him, Ivan will never have a DNA test. This would be an invasion of his privacy and will not even happen in criminal or civil court, and isn't necessary in this case. Ivan will face the Italian Olympic committee's Anti Doping Prosecutor (12 September) in the normal way and in my opinion, this will be enough for him to show that he has noting to do with this case."
Martelli then raised a point about McQuaid's DNA test statement, saying, "Even if the riders took a DNA test, what would happen if the Spanish investigating judge said 'no I'm not interested in the (results)', what is the next step? Take DNA tests of all the (professional) riders in the world? In my point of view, performing DNA tests are not justified. Ivan should be judged via the normal procedures and there isn't any reason to add other things."
After the recent run-in between Italian Federation President Renato Di Rocco and UCI's McQuaid at the European Cycling Union meeting in Milano, McQuaid gave an interview to French wire service AFP where he said, "Basso may have a four year disqualification. For him it will be hard to start again", which set off alarm bells at the Italian Federation.
Di Rocco told La Gazzetta dello Sport, "I'm surprised at McQuaid's comments. First I would say that our process of sporting justice needs to run it's course and now (McQuaid) seems to be speaking for the Spanish investigating judge (in Operacion Puerto). I support Basso's right to defend himself even though it seems that McQuaid has already found him guilty. I won't stoop to that level, which is the same one as (former UCI head) Verbruggen used to follow. Italy is in the forefront in the struggle against doping and we don't need to be schooled.
"In any case, it's a month since I've written to the UCI to see whether any disciplinary proceedings have been opened against others, like team staff and team managers, like Manolo Saiz because (doping) is the responsibility of the team. McQuaid accuses me of not being neutral in the Basso case, but neither is he in the cases of Liberty Seguros or Phonak."
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