Operacion Puerto trial to finally begin in January
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Operacion Puerto trial to finally begin in January

by Shane Stokes at 7:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Contador, Basso, Scarponi, Beloki and Manzano amongst witnesses called

The case has rumbled on since May 2006 but now, finally, it appears that the Operacion Puerto affair might be nearing a conclusion. Grand Tour winners Alberto Contador, Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi are amongst 35 witnesses which have been called to the trial of six defendants, which will be held between January 28th and March 22nd of next year.

The doctors Eufemiano Fuentes, his sister Yolanda and José Luis Merino Batres are three of the six accused, with the remainder being the cycling team managers Manolo Saiz and Vicente Belda plus the trainer Ignacio Labarta.

According to El Pais, the list of current and former riders called as witnesses includes Contador, Basso, Scarponi, Manzano, Darío Gadeo, Pedro Díaz Lobato, Marcos Serrano, David Etxebarria, Joseba Beloki, Ángel Vicioso, Isidro Nozal, Unai Osa, Jorg Jacksche and Gianpaolo Caruso.

Alejandro Valverde is not named by the paper but, as was the case with Basso and Scarponi, he served a suspension in relation to Puerto and could well also be summoned.

Former Liberty Seguros rider Contador was never charged with an offence in relation to the case. A mention of the initials ‘AC’ was discovered, although it has been claimed that this could alternatively correspond to another Spaniard, Antonio Colom.

As is the case with other riders on teams which had Fuentes as a doctor, he will be asked to speak about what work was carried out by the medic and others.

No riders will face charges as doping was not a criminal offence at the time. The six accused individuals are likely to face the allegation of endangering public health, and prosecutors will seek to prove that their actions endangered the cyclists concerned.

Manzano claimed he twice became seriously ill in 2003 due to doping procedures carried out; the first occasion happened during that year’s Tour de France. While in a break with Richard Virenque, he collapsed and had to be airlifted to hospital. The second happened later that year when he fell ill after being given a transfusion of blood.

The witnesses will also include 13 Guardia Civil (Spanish police) who were involved in the raids.

Amongst those making allegations of improper behaviour are Spanish state prosecutors, plus WADA, the UCI, the Italian Olympic Committee, Manzano, the Spanish cycling federation RFEC plus the AIGCP, the international association of professional teams.

Sentences of between two to four years are sought.

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