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Operación Puerto News for July 2, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Jeff Jones

38 pages of circumstantial evidence

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It's on the basis of a 38-page thick abstract of the original Spanish judiciary document of 500 pages that the Tour de France officials and the concerned team managers took the decision, yesterday morning, to take some of their riders out of their race rosters and suspend them with immediate effect. A hard decision for everyone involved, but one that certainly relied on hard facts, too, which will slowly but steadily come out to the public now.

The allegations are as follows:

On Ivan Basso: In a telephone conversation on May 14, 2006, at 21.46, between Ignacio Labarta and Eufemiano Fuentes, Labarta links Basso and José Ignacio Gutierrez to Fuentes, apparently identifying them as his clients. The affirmation of the relationship between Basso and Fuentes leads to the code name "Birillo" and consequently to the number two of the blood samples.

On Jan Ullrich: The surname "Jan" appears four times in document 32, where it is linked to a list of code-named products, which are: blood, growth hormone, IGF-I (growth factor) and testosterone.

On Ullrich and Basso: The document 65, which features the logo of Biomedisport Canarias SA, a company administrated by Fuentes, contains a list of the "collaborators and participants of the festival in May". This seems to refer to the Giro d'Italia, in which the following riders included in the list took part: Ivan Basso, Marcos Serrano, Michele Scarponi, José Enrique Gutierrez, and Jan Ullrich. The same documents seems to establish the relationship between these five riders and the activities of the group of Fuentes.

On Francisco Mancebo: In the search of Ignacio Labarta's home were found documents entitled "Information on Mancebo's effort test", as well as documents about his annual race program with symbols on drugs and blood transfusions, which point towards a direct relationship between Francisco Mancebo and number 17. [Mancebo has not refuted the allegations, but said that he would end his career - ed.]

On Oscar Sevilla: The record 99/06 identifies T-Mobiles Oscar Sevilla, coming to the apartment located at 20 Caidos de la Division Azul, in the company of Fuentes and Labarta on May 13. Four bags of refrigerated blood with the tag "5NO SIB 13/05/06" correspond to this visit. Jörg Jaksche and Santiago Botero's involvement are established the same way.

On Rudy Pevenage: On May 17, at 23.27, Fuentes received an SMS text message from a Belgian number with the following message: "Friend, when can we talk? Rudicio." On the next day, at 12.20, Fuentes receives a call from the same number. As he's busy, he asks the person to call back later. "This evening," he responds. "Now, there's a time trial." [which was won by Jan Ullrich - ed.] The elements lead to the supposition that the identity of "Rudicio" is T-Mobile's DS Rudy Pevenage, who is also a close personal advisor of Jan Ullrich.

It is important to note that not all of the riders that have been linked to the doping ring have been identified with the same methods of circumstantial evidence. Some of the riders' identities are formally established by using taped phone calls and video cameras (the cases of Santiago Botero, Oscar Sevilla and Jörg Jaksche, for example). Some riders have been linked because their names or code-names appear in incriminating documents. Thirdly, there are those whose names or patronyms are cited in conversations, but whose direct implication remains to be proven. This is the case with Alberto Contador and Sergio Paulinho.

Basso: "I'm no fugitive"

The should-have-been star of the 2006 Tour, after being linked to the doping network around incriminated haematologist Dr Fuentes, has left France and returned to his home in Italy on Friday afternoon. Ivan Basso has been suspended by his team director Bjarne Riis, for the good of his team and to give the Giro d'Italia winner time to prove his innocence.

Contacted by the Gazzetta dello Sport, the former leader of Team CSC was feeling angry, but composed. Asked if he was aware of the fact that his departure from the team hotel through the back door looked like he was fleeing, Basso denied. "I didn't run away, I'm no fugitive," he said. "I was suspended by my team and I did what I had to do. Besides, there is nothing official yet. No judicial institution has informed me of anything. Neither has the UCI or the Guardia Civil. It's an abnormal situation - I found myself in the centre of attention for something I have nothing to do with. To me it's embarrassing to face the television cameras."

Basso will now confer with his lawyer Massimo Martinelli. "I'm sure I'll get out of this as I'm innocent," he added. "[Bjarne Riis] has complete faith in me and waits for me with open arms.

"I've lived through worst times in my life. Two years ago I was at the Tour knowing that my mother was dying of cancer - this is nothing compared to that. I'm sure that I will get out of this with my head held high. I'll soon come back to race and to win," he concluded calmly.

Lissavetsky: "Anti-doping law not just against cycling"

The new Spanish anti-doping law is not aimed specifically at cyclists, according to the country's State Sports Secretary Jaime Lissavetsky. "This new Law is not against the cycling, but against doping," Lissavetsky was quoted by EFE as saying on Friday.

Although some 200 athletes (from track and field, basketball, tennis and football) are said to be implicated in Operacion Puerto, only 31 (of 58) cyclists have been named so far. Lissavetsky said that he is not aware of the names of any athletes from outside cycling yet. "There exists a report from the Guardia Civil which talks about cyclists, and from it, they could be identified according to the presumed plot...

"We did all that was asked of us. The French minister requested an official report from us on Operacion Puerto, and we have fulfilled this with great speed since the information leaked. It is necessary to discern between the criminal aspect on the one hand, and the cyclists on the other. The UCI has taken a decision which I cannot enter into."

Courtesy of Antonio J. Salmerón

Quesada suspended by Unibet

Unibet.com has suspended Carlos Garcia Quesada, who was named in Operacion Puerto case on Friday. "Until we have more information from the UCI, we won't let Quesada compete," said team manager Hilaire Van Der Schueren on the team's website. In the selection for the Tour of Austria, Quesada is being replaced by Matthew Wilson.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

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