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Nordic chill between Riis & Basso

Operacion Puerto dossier may Decide Basso's fate

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Since Ivan Basso was sent home shortly before the start of the Tour de France, his once close relationship with CSC boss Bjarne Riis has reportedly deteriorated to the point where the two are simply not talking. According to the Gazzetta Dello Sport, Riis and Basso are no longer speaking while other media are speculating that Basso is looking after a new team after losing faith with Riis.

But the stoic Danish Tour winner just poo-pooed the chatter, telling the media, "Basso's departure to Discovery is just one of those rumours goes around at the Tour de France. I don't have Ivan (Basso) on the phone every day, but we are still in regular contact." But before Basso is rehabilitated and comes back on the CSC roster, Riis explained, "I've got to sit down and go through everything with (Basso) before I make a decision. I'm just waiting for the end of the Tour so that I can meet him."

But Basso isn't sitting pat; the 28 year old Italian, winner of this year's Giro d'Italia is awaiting for the Italian translation of the Operacion Puerto dossier to mount his defense. Basso's attorney Avv. Massimo Martelli poured cold water on the possibility that Basso would go for a DNA test to compare his blood to the samples collected in the Operacion Puerto transfusion clinic. "A DNA test is traumatic, and not 100% reliable," Martelli said, but the Italian lawyer did criticise some of Operacion Puerto's doctor Eufemiano Fuentes' use of the code-name "Birillo" to allegedly refer to Basso in documents and wiretap conversations.

"Birillo is supposedly the name of Basso's dog. But yesterday, I heard his daughter Domitilla call the dog 'Tarello, so I don't think that at two years of age, a child could be wrong about the name of her dog." Perhaps true, but despite Avv. Tarello's spin, Basso is still far from clear of the serious implications fromcharges that may stem from Operacion Puerto. Once the UCI gets the documents, they will be passed to the Italian Cycling Federation, who will decide the future disposition of the case.

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