WADA frustrated with Operacion Puerto trial’s focus on cycling only
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

WADA frustrated with Operacion Puerto trial’s focus on cycling only

by VeloNation Press at 6:09 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Howman wants other sports investigated too

David HowmanWorld Anti Doping Agency David Howman has expressed frustration at the insistence of Spanish authorities that the upcoming Operacion Puerto trial will focus only on cycling, pointing out that many other sports are understood to have been involved too.

“We have been banging our heads against a brick wall to get access to the evidence that was gathered,” he told the Telegraph, speaking in advance of next Monday’s start of the trial. “It is not only frustrating and disappointing but it also means that many athletes who might be dirty have been allowed to compete.”

The Puerto affair broke in May 2006 when Spanish police raided a number of locations across the country, including the Madrid clinic run by Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. The seizure of a large number of banned products plus blood bags made it clear that a major doping network was being run. However, while Fuentes said that he was treating far more than only cyclists, that was the only sport which was investigated, with 54 riders being implicated.

Those included Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, the big favourites for that year’s Tour, as well as Alejandro Valverde and others. Each rider was referred to by a code name, many of them referring to their pets, but over time their real identities were discovered. Valverde, Basso and others were given bans while Ullrich retired from the sport.

However although a determination was shown by the UCI and others to sanction the cyclists, other sports were turning a blind eye. Fuente said on July 5th of that year that he was annoyed that cyclists were the only ones who were being rooted out, and that he also worked with sportspeople from football, tennis and athletics. On September 23rd former pro rider Jesus Manzano said that he had seen ‘well known footballers’ visit Fuentes’ clinic.

However, despite the head of FIFA Sepp Blatter asking for a copy of the file, no repercussions ever happened in football or other sports. This has frustrated cyclists and fans alike, who believe that those other sports are being shielded.

Howman is also not happy. “We were always told that the patients this man was treating were across a number of sports so it was disappointing that cycling was the only sport isolated,” he said.

Former pro rider Jorge Jaksche is due to give evidence at the Puerto trial, which begins on Monday. He confirmed to the Telegraph that Fuentes had told him when he was receiving his treatments that he had many other sportspeople on his books.

“For sure he was involved, and when he talked about it he was quite proud,” Jaksche stated. “If you watch the videos made by the police during the raid at one stage they open the fridge and pull out blood bags. They have certain code names written on them but these names never appear in the report. I think there is a big cover-up by the Spanish government. There is no interest from on high in too much information coming out.”

French newspaper Le Monde linked the football teams FC Barcelona and Real Madrid to Fuentes, but without definitive proof it would later lose a court case with the Barcelona team.

It is understood that Fuentes and the other defendants will not contest that transfusions happened, but as there was no criminal law forbidding doping at the time, prosecutors must prove that there were crimes committed against public health.

Many pro riders will be called to give evidence at the trial, but won’t face charges themselves.

 

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