Fuentes: no footballers but woe for Basso?
Do footballers’ names feature in the Operacion Puerto doping dossier? UCI president Pat McQuaid and
PIC BY TIM DE WAELE In the high temperatures of the Low Countries, it was a quiet day for Operacion Puerto, although the highest ranked official within the Tour de France organisation confirmed that ASO, the Tour’s parent company had no knowledge of any other sports being involved in the Guardia civil-led investigation. “We saw a document with a list of names that were only cyclists, nobody from other sports,” said Patrice Clerc, President of the Tour de France. “It was an excerpt of the list, sent to us by the Minister for the Interior in Spain. So I can’t comment on what (UCI President) Pat McQuaid has said, except to say that it’s a huge responsibility to talk about something when you’re not sure of it.” Clerc did not rule out the possibility of a separate document having been sent to UCI President McQuaid. “I don’t know if he has seen a different list,” said Clerc. “We haven’t been in contact with the UCI. We were in contact with the governments in Spain and France and we were working with them.” Last night, UCI President McQuaid said that he had only seen the same documentation as ASO, and again refuted quotes that had been attributed to him in a series of agency reports, newspaper articles and website stories. “I never said that I had seen a list of names of athletes from other sports. That is absolutely incorrect,” McQuaid said. In one significant development in the scandal which saw Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich kicked out of the Tour de France last Friday, La Gazzetta dello Sport has shed further light on Basso’s alleged links with Eufemiano Fuentes. According to the Italian newspaper, a flurry of telephone calls between Fuentes and Comunitat Valenciana directeur sportif Jos Ignacio Labarta during the recent Giro d’Italia appear to contradict Basso’s claim that he is not among the Spanish doctor’s clients. In one conversation between Fuentes and Labarta, taped on the evening of May 14 – just hours after Basso’s stage victory on the Passo Lanciano – Fuentes adopts a mischevous tone to tell his friend that “A strange rider won: Basso, Ivan Basso.” Labarta replies knowingly: “A certain Ivan Basso”. According to La Gazzetta, Labarta later seems to be complementing Fuentes as he observes that Basso and another alleged client, Jos Enrique Gutierrez, occupy first and second place on general classification. Labarta: “Good, my boy, a certain Basso and a certain Guti are first and second.” Fuentes: “My goodness”. And, finally, Labarta: “You have first and second”. La Gazzetta quotes further telephone transcripts from the Giro in which investigators believe Basso is identified by the codename Birillo (also the name of the CSC rider’s dog). The same presumed pseudonym appears on another handwritten note taken from Fuentes and referring to testosterone patches, blood plasma, the female hormone treatment gonadotropine, and also the code for a Swiss bank account. Basso has denied any contact with Fuentes and the use of banned substances.