June 16, 2004
Italian doping conversations in Le Monde
A number of telephone conversations made during a doping investigation of Italian racers have turned up in Le Monde (Google translation), including Saeco's Danilo Di Luca, Eddy Mazzoleni, and Alessandro Spezialetti.
The calls involve an Italian doctor nicknamed "Ali the Chemist" who has been charged with providing performance-enhancing drugs and helping riders avoid testing positive.
Investigators believe the conversations are of EPO, and Mazzoleni at one points discusses trying to import a new kind of EPO, only available in the US:
"We should maybe bring it in through England or Spain, tomorrow my girlfriend's coming up, and then there's the accountant, we should be able to do it," Mazzoleni tells Santuccione before adding "Above all, if you're not successful for the Giro, then for the Tour [de France]... "
Domina Vacanze has suspended 2 riders, Mario Scirea and Alessandro Galletti, for their part in the scandal. Police have discovered a "supply network of blood transfusion bags" through Galletti.
Fassa Bortolo's Fabio Sacchi is also implicated, according to Le Monde.
Patrice Clerc, president of the Amaury Sport Organisation, which runs the Tour, wants these riders' teams, and the Cofidis team, to drop any riders being investigated for doping before the Tour starts July 3rd.
"I don't see how they can start the Tour if they are found guilty of dangerous links through tapped phone calls," Clerc told AFP. "There are still cheats out there. We have to own up to it and fight to eliminate not only the riders but everyone in their set-up involved in it."
Neither Saeco nor Fassa Bortolo has taken action against its riders yet, as has Domina Vacanze. Clerc said he wants to see those riders plus Cedric Vasseur of Cofidis banned. Cofidis has proclaimed that Vasseur is innocent until proven guilty, and is allowing him to race in the meantime.