Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Reopens Basso Case

In a story published in Cyclingnews this morning, Italian authorities have disclosed that they are interested in the bags of blood tagged with the codenames “Birillo” and “2” currently in the hands of Spanish authorities as part of Operation Puerto. Italian paper La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that those bags could be in the hands of Italian authorities within a week.

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In related news, the Spanish pape, Interviu is outlining a potentially deeper relation between Basso and Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes than had been reported.

Given this “one-two” punch, Discovery Channel has suspended Basso pending a DNA test on the bags of blood from Operation Puerto. Obviously, this puts the Giro is serious jeopardy. Questions are also in my mind regarding the ability of Discovery Channel to locate a sponsor in the midst of all of this. My guess that the one pushing the hardest for a swift resolution will be Johan himself, not McQuaid, Pound, or the Grand Tours.

I have yet to hear of any response from the other ProTour teams and those within the UCI and Grand Tours who continue to advocate an exclusion of all riders directly or indirectly implicated in Operation Puerto. It would be wise of them to wait until the DNA results are in before they find the nearest bully pulpit.

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10 Responses to Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Reopens Basso Case

  1. Ed says:

    Operation Puerto was over a year ago. It trashed the Tour field. Why are they just now coming out with these results? Basso was punished last year, or am I wrong?

    What if they decide to dredge up a sample from 5 years ago and test it? Will Basso be banned again?

    Maybe I’m missing something but all this year-later testing and suspicious sample handling seems very arbitrary. Cycling better get a hold of this.

    Samples should be reliably and redundantly tested within 48 hours and that’s the end of it.

  2. pelotonjim says:

    Well, here is a brief timetable explaining how we get from there to here.

    1) Police raid Dr Fuentes home and seize notes, drugs, and blood among other stuff
    2) Head of various sports authorities receive names of suspected “patients” The names are in some cases derived from codes.
    3) Cycling decides that suspicion is enough and suspends riders. Other sports say nothing (TDF starts with few riders less)
    4) Many riders are exonerated but the UCI stands firm.
    5) Spanish court says nothing can happen until the original case is adjudicated against Fuentes. No real evidence is released
    6) Italy says since CONI has no evidence against Basso it closes his case
    7) Finally Puerto case is closed because at the time, there was no law against blood doping in Spain
    8- Since case is over, blood and other evidence is finding it’s way to other authorities. Jan Ullrich’s DNA matches DNA in bags of blood
    9) It seems that Italy will be in possession of blood suspected to be Basso’s

  3. Ed says:

    I thnk the answer, in order to avoid this kind of thing in the future from damaging the sport any more, is to have immediate, redundant, reliable, international testing of all stage winners. I know they take samples of each stage winner already but the testing seems pretty sketchy to me, and takes way too long. I don’t want to enjoy another TDF win only to find out weeks later that he tested positive on stage 13 or something. Who, in their right mind, will continue to be a Tour fan if the threat of this kind of thing lurks always just behind the scenes?

    Of course the riders bear most of the blame, for cheating in the first place. Perhaps the riders should be cleared prior to the start of the race as well, but surely they do that already? Obviously I don’t have all the answers. I’m just a jaded sports fan who is disappointed that I can’t enjoy competition in any sport anymore without wondering who cheated to get an advantage.

    Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron should be the biggest story of the decade but I couldn’t care less because I know he’s a low-life cheat.

    Maybe I’ll just go back and enjoy Lance’s 7 clean wins each year. With his victories, I know I can be a fan without reservations.

  4. Debby says:

    What a shame, the timing of all this. It seems like the season just gets underway, and they drag out OP and Floyd’s B samples and further alienate sponsors.

    We need some *good* news in cycling, and soon.

  5. Ed says:

    Looks like Basso is a victim of Operation Puerto…again. Is there no such thing as constitutionally guaranteed protection against double-jeopardy in Europe?

    Seriously, he was denied participation in TDF’06, and now a year later, he gets canned again, for the same crime?

    Why can’t those idiots in the doping labs get their act together?

    I mean, what the hell?

  6. Ed says:

    Jim, I went back and read your timeline of events of which #9 was…

    9) It seems that Italy will be in possession of blood suspected to be Basso’s

    I guess that’s where we’re picking up today? Do you think Basso will be forced to endure the same tortured year (go on a denial tour) that Floyd has?

    I am seriously bummed by this.

  7. pelotonjim says:

    Now we wait for the DNA test. If it is positive, it will be real hard to dispute the results. In Floyd’s case, much depends on the interpretation of the test. In DNA, it is either yours or not. Not a lot of gray area. Unless you are OJ.

    I probably shouldn’t have said that.

  8. Ed says:

    I did not see the OJ reference coming….nice!

    So I guess if the blood is his, it’s a cut and dried indictment of his acquaintance with the good “doctor”. Can we then assume it won’t matter whether the blood is tainted, the proof of association alone makes him guilty? At 27, will he take two years off and come back, or just call it a day like Jan?

  9. pelotonjim says:

    My guess is he will do his time and come back. The question is will he ever admit it? Assuming the DNA test comes back as a match.

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