Jaksche leaves no doubt in Puerto testimony; Basso says he never transfused blood
MADRID (VN) – Jörg Jaksche cut through two weeks of dancing around the truth at the Operación Puerto trial and straight to the chase on Monday.
In matter-of-fact testimony, the German ex-pro stated the obvious Monday and said his contacts with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes had nothing to do with “health,” as Fuentes is claiming, but everything to do with doping.
“No one forced me to dope, it was just expected of us,” Jaksche said as the Puerto trial entered its third week. “I am not sure which of my teammates were with Fuentes, but I knew there were others.”
Jaksche ran off a laundry list of doping products in Fuentes’ arsenal, including human growth hormone, EPO, anabolic steroids, and blood transfusions.
Jaksche said it was clear what he was doing and he trusted Fuentes would watch out for his well being, though he did have doubts.
He described how blood bags were stored in coolers and transfusions were conducted in hotel rooms across Europe.
“My father was a doctor, but I never told him or anyone else what I was doing. I didn’t want to risk a ban or the news getting out,” Jaksche said. “Fuentes said he was taking care of things correctly.”
Fuentes didn’t come cheap, but he did offer discounts. According to Jaksche, one blood transfusion was 4,000 euros, but two went for 6,000 euros. Everything was paid into a Swiss bank account, the former ONCE and Liberty Seguros rider said.
Fuentes and four others are facing possible two-year jail terms and fines for questions of “public health.” Fuentes has made the argument that blood transfusions and other doping products were used to protect athletes’ health against the demands of cycling.
Jaksche, who retired after an aborted return with Tinkoff in 2007, said Fuentes would use a Tour de France race map to plot where blood transfusions would be carried out.
“There were so many circles, you could barely see the map,” Jaksche said.
Jaksche said his doping practices began early in his career, in 1997 when he was Polti. After joining ONCE, he linked up with team manager Manolo Saíz and returned with Saíz to Liberty Seguros after one season with CSC and Bjarne Riis.
The presiding judge cut off questions about Riis, but Jaksche said he returned to Saíz because he liked the team and said there were money problems with Riis.
Jaksche said it was “riders who always end up paying.”
“Cycling is not a mafia, it’s a sport run by unscrupulous people,” he said. “Now the same people who were behind doping would later point their finger at us.”
Basso still denies transfusing blood
Cannondale’s Ivan Basso, one of only a few active riders set to testify, also gave his testimony on Monday.
Basso served a two-year ban after pressure from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and returned in late 2008. On Monday, Basso stuck to his previous story that he only “planned” to blood dope.
Basso said he first came in contact with Fuentes in 2001 but did not make plans to dope with him until 2005. He said he took out three blood extractions to be used during the 2006 Tour de France, but never had the chance after the doping ring was uncovered by Spanish police. Tour organizer Amaury Sport Organisation expelled Basso, who was with Riis’ CSC team at the time, from the startlist before the Tour began.
“I dreamed of winning the Tour,” Basso said. “It was all up to me. My team and my family didn’t know what I was doing. I never did the transfusions.”
Basso said he trusted Fuentes and fellow ringleader Dr. José Luis Merino, a Spanish hematologist. Merino is not facing charges because doctors say he is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Basso did not implicate then-CSC manager Riis, who has come under fire by some who say he was a key member in the Fuentes doping ring, a charge the Dane denies.
Basso said he paid Fuentes 15,000 euros out of a planned 70,000-euro doping budget for the 2006 season. He initially denied the charges, but later admitted he worked with Fuentes after CONI threatened to check Basso’s DNA against blood bags labeled “Birillo,” Basso’s nickname in the Fuentes papers.
Basso said testifying was the “right” thing to do and that he feels he is the only one of Fuentes’ alleged clients “who paid for everything.”
Only Basso, Jaksche, Michele Scarponi, and Alejandro Valverde have served racing suspensions for links to Fuentes.
Testimony from Marcos Serrano planned for Monday was delayed until Tuesday’s session. Also set to appear are former Liberty Seguros riders Joseba Beloki, Unai Osa, David Etxebarria, and Isidro Nozal.