Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Doping - Basso and DNA

So Tailwind Sports, the organization that runs the Discovery Team cycling team, issued a press release. In it they state that they've told Ivan Basso, with a fresh investigation launched in Italy on his alleged Fuentes doings, to stop competing until things are cleared.

They state that in 10 years they have never had a positive.

I guess it would be hard to have a positive if the company started listing itself as the team contact (for USPS in this case) starting 5 years ago (2002). Granted the address has been the same but the name has been different.

Splitting hairs, yes, but still. I figure they probably owned the other companies that were listed as the team contacts. So, in 2000, when the contact listed was "Disson Furst and Partners" at this Sausilito, CA address, it was probably really Tailwind Sports which ran the show.

If that's the case, I wonder what they say about Joachim Benoit, a racer they fired in 2000 after he tested positive for Nandrolone at levels of 5.7 ng/ml and 6.2 ng/ml, well above the IOC's 2 ng/ml limit and still above the more lax UCI's 5 ng/ml limit.

Benoit was eventually acquitted. There were no real reasons for his acquittal - simply that there was a long time between the race and the test. No more time, than, say, some of the follow up tests done on recent positive and non-positive racers. After firing him quite publicly, the team discretely rehired him for the following years, keeping him until the end of 2006.

USPS actually kept an archive of the press release announcing his termination due to doping - but a search of the site reveals that it's been discarded, along with the whole USPS team section.

Anyway, back on Basso.

It appears that Basso's carefully worded statement on being available for particular DNA testing, one statement Lance and Tailwind Sports points to as an indication that Basso is willing to work with authorities, will come back to bite him quite hard. With the Italian cycling federation launching an inquiry, one of the scenarios in Basso's statement about submitting to DNA testing will be met.

When he first signed with Discovery, there were assumptions that this meant Bruyneel would have Basso submit to a DNA test. But no, even before the team announced the signing, Basso's lawyer proclaimed that Basso doesn't have to submit to such things. And after the signing Basso had been strangely quiet on the whole topic of providing DNA samples.

The way most people see it, if DNA testing can free a couple hundred people that witnesses and others swore up and down committed all sorts of heinous crimes, then it couldn't harm an innocent like Basso could it?

The problem is that DNA works the other way too. One could claim to be an innocent, live the life of an innocent, and yet be a criminal. In Trespasses, author Howard Swindle writes about a serial rapist that carried on a normal life - owning a small business, carrying on personal relationships - and yet found time to scour his neighborhood and commit many rapes. Convicted of 48, he may have committed twice as many. He was positively identified through DNA. Another criminal who ran free for a long time until DNA caught up with him - the BTK serial killer, Dennis Rader.

I'm not saying Basso raped or killed anyone. But I am saying that although he may portray himself as an innocent, DNA testing will go a long way in proving (or disproving) his claims.

And to be frank, his case looks awfully weak.

Just because the DNA matched between the suspected Jan Ullrich bags (with various code names linked to Ullrich) and Ullrich, it does not make it a given that the Ivan Basso bags (with other various code names) will match Basso's DNA. But if the Spanish investigation was correct and "Birillo" is indeed an code name for Basso...

When things smell, it's usually for a reason.

I guess we'll wait and see.

No comments: