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Spanish investigators help CONI's case

Basso last race was the Castilla y Leon, March 30

Basso last race was the Castilla y Leon, March 30 (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

It was through the help of the Spanish magistrate that Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) antidoping prosecutors Franco Cosenza and Ettore Torri closed in on Ivan Basso. The first round of hearings in October 2006 were shelved but, after additional evidence from Madrid, the second round in April 2007 was successful in persuading Ivan Basso to sign an agreement to confession.

The circumstantial evidence meant CONI was able to present a strong case against Basso. Listed are some of the key factors that led to Basso signing CONI's ten-page confession document.

1. The code name 'Birillo' that appeared on the June 27, 2006, Guardia Civil dossier. This document was a product of the investigation known as Operación Puerto (stared May 23, 2006, in Madrid) and in it Birillo was linked with the number '2.' Basso had historically denied Birillo as being the name of his dog, he insisted in his original CONI summons that his dog's name was 'Tarello'.

2. Two telephone recordings from May 13 and 14 made by DS Ignacio Labarta to Fuentes. "Birillo had arrived with Simoni at sixteen seconds," was said on May 13 according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. This referred to Giro d'Italia stage seven, won by Rik Verbrugghe, where Basso finished 16 seconds back with Gilberto Simoni, Davide Rebellin and Serguei Gonchar. The next day another recording, "A certain Ivan Basso won." Basso was now first overall with José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) second. "Friend, you have... a first and a second."

3. A fax, outlined in page 15 of the dossier, that was sent from Fuentes to Nelson Giraldo Flores (in Colombia) in the days leading up to the "festival Mayo" (or Giro d'Italia). Fuentes wrote, "As per our agreement, I am sending a list of collaborators and participants in the festival that takes place in May;" going on to ask Colombian Flores for "help and collaboration." It listed riders Basso, Marco Serrano, Michele Scarponi, Gutierrez and Jan Ullrich (spelled with one "l" in the fax) without the use of code names.

4. An agenda with a schedule of blood extractions and transfusions since 2004. In the agenda the pseudonyms 'Birillo' and '2' are used.

5. 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.

Guardia Civil intercepted messages from Basso to Fuentes after the 2006 Giro.

7. 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 had always denied being there.

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