Cycling News Flash for May 1, 2007
Edited by Sue George
Additional Operación Puerto dossier reveals extensive new evidence
Giro participation of Hamilton & Jaksche in question
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
According to a report in La Gazzetta dello Sport published April 30, a new 6,000 page dossier has been released by the Guardia Civil in Madrid to the UCI on Operación Puerto which purportedly implicates an additional 49 cyclists; combined with the 58 cyclists already implicated in the original 500 page Operación Puerto dossier, this brings the total to 107 riders allegedly caught in the Puerto net.
In this extensive new investigative file, the Guardia Civil in Madrid have linked numbers used by Dr. Fuentes to identify blood sample bags to names; number 1 to Ullrich, number 2 to Basso, number 4 to Botero, number 5 to Sevilla, number 7 to Unai Osa, number 8 to his brother Aitor Osa, number 11 to then Phonak rider Tyler Hamilton, number 12 to Hamilton's Phonak teammate Gutierrez Cataluña, number 14 to Roberto Heras, number 19 to Tino Zaballa, and number 20 to new Tinkoff signing Jaksche. But much mystery remains; many of the 223 blood bags are still on ice in a Barcelona anti-doping lab and have not yet been linked to any specific riders. There are also plenty of unidentified names: number 9: Urko; number 10: Rosa; number 15: Cesar; number 17: Goku; number 24: Clasicomano (Luigi); number 25: Amigo de Birillo; number 26: Huerta; number 33: Clasicomano, as well as other yet unidentified nicknames like Guri, Azul Huri, and Milan.
Newly identified as linked to Operación Puerto, Tinkoff Credit's Tyler Hamilton and recent signee Jorg Jaksche were reportedly suspended by the Russian team so they would not race in the upcoming Giro d'Italia. Hamilton was already implicated in the first Operación Puerto dossier, but the American denied any involvement in Operación Puerto, saying last May that "I have not been treated by Dr. Fuentes. I have not done what the article alleges. In addition, I have never been contacted by authorities in Spain regarding these allegations. Therefore, it is also impossible to comment on a situation I have no knowledge of."
However, with the publication of police documents by Spanish newspaper El Pais, where Hamilton's training schedule and doping program was clearly identified by a code, 4142, the allegations of the first Operación Puerto dossier against Hamilton are now added to by the identification of his blood bags in the Puerto stash by the Guardia Civil's new dossier.
Until now, USA Cycling has not opened an investigation into the former Phonak rider's alleged involvement in Operación Puerto, but just as the Italian Olympic Commitee has done regarding Ivan Basso, with new Puerto evidence coming to light, USA Cycling could obtain the Puerto blood samples from rider number 11, allegedly Tyler Hamilton according to Spanish police authorities, and clear up Hamilton's involvement in Operación Puerto with his DNA sample once and for all.
Old and new evidence continues to mount against Hamilton. A report published in L'Equipe last October said that USA Cycling's president Jim Ochowicz, a former "consultant" to the Phonak team, was aware of the two letters the UCI sent to Phonak and Hamilton in 2004 regarding "irregular" blood values found in Hamilton's samples from the Tour of Romandie and Dauphine' Libere. Hamilton still represented the US at the Athens Olympics, where his individual time trial gold medal result was eventually tainted by a positive test for blood doping. More recently, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Hamilton's coach Dr. Luigi "Cecco" Cecchini of Lucca, Italy, is also newly implicated in the Puerto dossier. Although Cecchini has denied any involvement in Puerto, Dr. Fuentes has been quoted as saying "Cecco is a friend of mine".
Tinkoff's Omar Piscina talked to the Associated Press today regarding Hamilton and Jaksche's alleged suspension. "We have no intention of suspending Hamilton or Jaksche. We haven't received any sort of notice from the authorities and nobody is investigating them as far as we know," said Piscina.
However, Hamilton and Jaksche's Giro participation may not be up to Tinkoff. Giro d'Italia organizers signed a communique with the other major race organizers on April 26 agreeing with the Tour de France's position to exclude any riders involved in Operación Puerto from their races. It said, " the AIOCC (International Race Organizers Association) calls for solidarity with all the players in cycling involved with the question of doping, and finds this necessary for the question of credibility and discipline."
What is next for the information contained in the extensive new Operación Puerto findings? Newly released from the Discovery Channel cycling team, free agent Ivan Basso and Aqua e Sapone's Michele Scarponi will both face Italian Olympic Committee hearings Wednesday.
In an upcoming meeting on Friday, May 4 between UCI President Pat McQuaid, Tour de France head Christian Prudhomme and International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) leader Patrick Lefevere, new strategies may emerge on how to deal with the evolving situation. According to La Gazzetta, last Tuesday's meeting before Fleche Wallone had a measure of disunity with regard to how to proceed. The German teams, led by T-Mobile, took a hard line on how to proceed with riders implicated in Operación Puerto, while Spanish teams distanced themselves from the idea of DNA tests for riders.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
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