June 1, 2007. Milan, Itlay.
In response to the La Gazzetta dello Sport story linking retired Classics star, Michele Bartoli, to bags of blood, marked with the name of his dog, 'Sansone', Birillo, Ivan Basso's dog, announced the formation of a new advocacy group, CANE (Canines Against Needles and EPO). The man responsible for administering the Operation Puerto doping ring, Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, gave many of his clients pseudonyms based on their dogs' names
Birillo, through his attorneys stated:
After reading about Sasone, I contacted him and he agreed that we needed to take action to protect our good names. We can no longer sit by and allow this kind of slander to continue. Sasone and I are old friends, when Ivan and Michele were on Fassa Bartolo together and later CSC, Sasone and I would take long walks in the woods. I know him well. He has been deeply affected by this story and is no longer calm.
CANE (Italian for dog ed.) will also be a support group, providing couseling services to those dogs whose trust has been betrayed.
As the group's first official action, they have petitioned Spanish authorities for access to the 6,000 pages of Puerto documents. The group expects to be granted access just as the UCI and the AIGCP (International Association of Professional Cycling Groups) have been.
Once we have reviewed the documents with our attorneys, we will take appropriate action, including filing a class action suit against all riders who used their dog's name and Dr. Fuentes for aiding in the slander.
We have also initiated a worldwide search for dogs who think they maybe
implicated in the scandal.
We are in contact with PETA and the ASPCA. I have talked to some of the other dogs in the Pro peloton, including Tyler Hamilton's dogs, who at this point have no comment. We have surveillance on Floyd Landis' home to see if he has a dog, although we will not approach him until after the USADA has ruled on Landis'case.
A ruling on Birillo's motion for a temporary restraining order in his pending court action against Ivan Basso is expected soon. Go here for the press release on the filing of Birillo's suit.