Basso's lawyer prepares his defence

Ivan Basso's lawyer describes the evidence linking the Italian with the Operacion Puerto blood dopin

Ivan Basso's lawyer describes the evidence linking the Italian with the Operacion Puerto blood dopin

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Ivan Basso's lawyer, Massimo Martelli, has described himself as "optimistic" when asked about his hopes for being able to clear his client of any suspected link with the Operacion Puerto blood doping ring. Speaking to L'Equipe this morning, Martelli revealed he had recently been in Madrid to talk to the magistrate overseeing the Puerto case, and described the evidence against Basso as "just supposition or indirect proof".

Basso is not believed to have had any direct link at all with the doctor allegedly at the centre of the ring, Eufemiano Fuentes, if indeed any link at all. As for the Puerto dossier that led to Basso's ejection from the Tour 10 days ago, Martelli commented: "It's as if they only wanted to translate certain passages. One caller says to Dr Fuentes that 'a certain' Basso has won. In Italy, the term 'a certain' suggests someone you don't know."

As for the code name supposedly allocated to Basso, 'Birillo', Martelli says that the link has just been made by the media. "Birillo is supposed to be the name of Basso's dog. But when I was there yesterday I heard his daughter Domitilla call the dog Tarello. I don't think a two-year-old child would be mistaken about its dog's name."

Martelli admitted that Basso was in favour of subjecting himself to DNA testing if that was what was required to clear himself, but the lawyer said he is against this. "It's not 100 per cent trustworthy," said Martelli, although DNA testing is widely regarded as 99.99 per cent accurate.

Meanwhile, Basso's CSC team boss, Bjarne Riis, has said he is considering putting an end to collaboration between some of his riders and Italian training consultant Luigi Cecchini, who has been linked to Fuentes. "We've not taken a definitive decision, but we are thinking about it, and there's a strong probability we will do it," he told Danish news agency Ritzau.

Riis added that Cecchini had not been his team's doctor for some years and that he now acts as the sporting adviser and trainer to just four CSC riders: Fabian Cancellara, Matti Breschel, Michael Blaudzun and Nicki Sorensen.

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