Spanish anti-doping chief promises to try to identify Operacion Puerto clients after trial ends
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Monday, February 18, 2013

Spanish anti-doping chief promises to try to identify Operacion Puerto clients after trial ends

by VeloNation Press at 6:10 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
WADA president Fahey pushing for all sports concerned to be investigated

Ivan BassoThe head of Spain’s anti-doping agency has vowed that body will do its utmost to use the evidence gathered as part of Operacion Puerto to pursue cases once the current legal trial finishes.

Due to Spanish laws that were in place when the Operacion Puerto raids were carried out in May 2006, doping was not actually illegal at the time. The defendants in the current trial – namely the doctor Eufemiato Fuentes, his sister Yolanda, the former Liberty Seguros cycling team director Manolo Saiz; former Comunitat Valencia team chief Vicente Belda plus his deputy, Jose Ignacio Labarta – are all charged with crimes of endangering public health.

However while those individuals and the sportspeople who used the banned substances will not face legal charges in connection to doping, they could all face penalties if Spanish sporting authorities open their own disciplinary actions afterwards.

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has demanded that this happens and now Spain's anti-doping agency has said that it agrees. It wants the court to hand over the haul of over 200 blood bags discovered in police raids in 2006 in order to facilitate their analysis and the identification of the athletes concerned to take place.

“When the trial finishes, this is not over. We will go to work,” vowed Ana Munoz, the head of Spain's anti-doping agency, according to The Associated Press. “I am very aware of the doubts that exist abroad about Spain's anti-doping fight. I spend 80 percent of my time trying to change this image, not just with words, but with actions.”

Although over 50 riders were thought to be involved in the Operacion Puerto doping scheme, very few ever faced sanctions as a result. Two who did were Alejandro Valverde and Ivan Basso (pictured), while Jan Ullrich retired from competition after being prevented from starting the 2006 Tour de France.

However most of the other riders plus all of the sportspeople outside cycling escaped punishment, with the latter group never being identified. They are rumoured to include top athletes from football, basketball, tennis, athletics and other sports.

Spanish courts have thus far blocked the release of information in relation to these other sports, prompting accusations of bias against cycling and a general cover-up.

According to WADA president John Fahey, a "monumental cloud" of doubt would hang over "hundreds of athletes in Spain” if the information is not released. This view is shared by the president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco. “We hope along with the rest of the sports world that the conclusions that come out of the trial serve to clear up and investigate the indications of past doping,” he said.

The decision is believed to be down to the judge overseeing the current trial, Julia Santamaria. However with Spain hoping to host the 2020 Olympic Games, there is pressure on the country to comply with WADA’s request and to facilitate the identification of the sportspeople who used the services of Fuentes and others to dope.

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