Italy collects Basso-related blood bags

Italian cyclist Ivan Basso is set to face further investigations, including DNA testing, regarding...

Spanish paper details Fuentes connection

Italian cyclist Ivan Basso is set to face further investigations, including DNA testing, regarding his involvement in Operación Puerto. Last October the Italian cycling federation (FCI) investigation against him was shelved on the direction of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), and he was freed to sign with Discovery Channel. However, Spanish weekly magazine Interviú has published further papers detailing the 29 year-old's relation with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

Tuesday morning, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that there is interest from a Procura italiana (Italian public prosecutor, likely Bergamo anti-doping lawyer Cristina Rota) to have the bags of blood labelled 'Birillo' (allegedly Basso's dog's name) and with the number 2 brought from Madrid to Italy. It states that this transfer, like what was done in Jan Ullrich's case, could happen sometime in the coming week, where the prosecutor could then ask for a DNA sample from Basso.

Subsequently, CONI announced on its website that it was reopening investigations, signifying a change of its stance on the issue. It has summoned Basso to its headquarters in Rome at 15.00 on May 2.

This morning Ivan Basso was slated to arrive in Charleroi, Belgium for the start of the Flèche Wallonne (Wednesday) and the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but according to Belgian's HLN, Basso, under increasing pressure, will not start. (He faced similar pressure from his former team, CSC, at the end of 2006 when he missed out on the Giro di Lombardia.)

Interviú detailed previously unpublished papers connecting Basso with Fuentes. This article contained what it said was circumstantial evidence implicating the rider, including: 1) An agenda with a schedule of blood extractions and transfusions since 2004. In the agenda the pseudonyms 'Birillo' and '2' are used. 2) Payments in 2004 of around €35,000 and another €6000 for the freezing the blood (or "gastos de Siberia"), and an advance payment of €70,000 in 2006 'to be defined individually'; there was also a message received from Fuentes in Italian which talks of a Zurich bank account. 3) The analyses of blood, which could have been done in November 2005 in Madrid, with haematologist Merino Batres, a collaborator of Fuentes. The Spanish Guardia Civil suspect that the cyclist visited Madrid at least three times but he has always denied being there.

Further, the weekly magazine noted telephone recordings collected by the Guardia Civil, one that said 'Birillo had arrived with Simoni at sixteen seconds', This would seem to refer to Giro d'Italia stage seven, won by Rik Verbrugghe, where Basso finished 16 seconds back with Gilberto Simoni, Davide Rebellin and Serguei Gonchar.

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

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

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