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Basso prepares his defence

By Hedwig Kröner, with additional reporting from Shane Stokes

Ever since Ivan Basso returned home to his native Italy on June 30, one day prior to the start of the Tour de France, the now suspended CSC rider has been in close contact with his lawyer, Massimo Martelli, who has taken over not only the preparation of his defence but also his relations to the media.

Martelli, wrote L'Equipe's Philippe Brunel in Wednesday's edition of the paper, travelled to Madrid last week to meet the investigators of the Guardia Civil and the magistrate in charge of the Operacion Puerto affair. The attorney was given a copy of the dossier which led to Basso's exclusion of the Tour.

"There are very few indications," he said, "only suppositions and indirect proof." Martelli added that Basso appeared in none of the video camera-recorded films the officials had used in their investigation, and that the recorded telephone calls which concerned Basso included silences and omissions which could be used for all sorts of interpretations.

"One correspondent tells doctor Fuentes that a 'certain' Basso won. But in Italy for example, the word 'certain' is used for an unknown person," Martelli said. As for the codename 'Birillo', the attorney added that this was an invention of the media. "Birillo is supposed to be the name of Basso's dog. But yesterday, I heard his daughter Domitilla call the dog 'Tarello' - I don't think that at two years of age, a child could be wrong about the name of its dog."

So while Basso is said to train every day, being "very impatient to get out of this dead end", his representative is in contact with the authorities in charge: the UCI, which is in possession of more complete documents on the case, as well as the Anti-Doping section of the Italian Olympic committee, which will let Basso be heard once it has all the information available. It can then either classify the case or else send Basso before the disciplinary commission of his cycling federation, which could ask Basso for a DNA test.

While the winner of the Giro d'Italia is in favour of the idea, his attorney isn't. "It's a traumatic act, and not reliable to 100 percent," Martelli said.

However many other lawyers and scientists would disagree with this last assertion. DNA testing is taken to being 99.5 percent reliable and has been used as the mainstay of countless criminal cases for many years. In fact, if an inaccurate reading does occur, this decreases rather than increases the chances of Basso having a blood match.

Across the border in Switzerland, the president of the Swiss Olympic committee's doping section Gerhard Walter stated several days ago that he felt such testing was vital in the case of Jan Ullrich, another accused of working with Dr. Fuentes. "The reports out of Spain indicate a seemingly clear situation, therefore it's up to the athletes to exonerate themselves," he stated. "If Ullrich, for example, doesn't make a DNA test, then I assume that the charges are true."

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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