By Susan Westemeyer and Gregor Brown in Huy
Italian investigators have seven bags of blood which have been tentatively identified as belonging to Ivan Basso, who is scheduled to appear before the anti-doping agency of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) on May 2. It is expected that public prosecutors will prepare charges of violating the anti-doping laws and lying under oath.
"I will ask for Basso to make his DNA available, and I hope that he gives me a positive response," said head of CONI Anti-doping, Ettore Torri, to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Tuesday, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) announced it would re-open the case it shelved last October, urged forward by the bags of blood that are being transported from the Guardia Civil in Madrid.
If Basso should refuse to give one, Torri could take a sample from blood which was taken from him at an unannounced training control several weeks ago. "The comparison is useful, but not deciding," Torri said. "We have enough material out of Madrid to draw our conclusions." Torri has been working doggedly on the case for a while. "We will go forward all the same."
When the case was shelved last fall, CONI left open the possibility of it being reopened. "The lawyer [Franco Cosenza] had asked for a 'reserved' shelving. With Cosenza, we have, in reality, always gone forward. And we immediately knocked on the door of the Spanish magistrate."
Torri and his colleagues will look at the new material, specifically the bags of blood marked "Birillo" or with the number 2. "We kept knocking on its door and at the end they opened. It is sending the materials to us in Italy." He continued but refused to give specific details. "It this moment the less we say the better."
"Before the Giro d'Italia," Torri continued on whether or not there will be a decision made before Basso's home tour. "Then we will establish if it [the case] pertains to the Italian cycling federation's (FCI) disciplinary commission." Torri hopes to open the proceedings against Basso before the start of the Giro d'Italia on May 12.
Basso cried on Tuesday when he heard the news, according to his lawyer Massimo Martelli. "I have never seen Ivan like this, he is doing very poorly." He indicated that Basso would not refuse to supply the DNA sample.
"Basso has no choice," said Renato di Rocco, head of the Italian cycling federation, according to eurosport.de. "If he wants to clarify the situation, he will have to give CONI the possibility to compare his DNA." Giro organizer Angelo Zomengnan said that Basso's participation "is becoming more difficult, cycling doesn't need this sort of tension."
In addition, Giampolo Caruso, Luca Paolini, and Michele Scarponi will also be facing proceedings. Torri said that his assistant Marco Artini already has the documents and material from Madrid concerning those three.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
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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