Fuentes and Labarta found guilty in Operacion Puerto trial, get suspended prison sentences
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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fuentes and Labarta found guilty in Operacion Puerto trial, get suspended prison sentences

by Shane Stokes at 9:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Judge denies WADA’s request to hand over blood bags

blood bagAlmost seven full years after the Operacion Puerto raids in Madrid and elsewhere, the ringleader of the doping practice Eufemiano Fuentes plus Ignacio Labarta have been found guilty by the judge ruling on the case.

While there were no laws against doping in place at the time, today’s ruling states that they violated Article 361 of the Spanish criminal code. This refers to crimes against public health, with the judge being satisfied that the conduct of Fuentes and Labarta was indeed a risk to those they helped dope.

However the punishments have come under criticism, and so too the decision of the judge in relation to a WADA request to release the blood bags seized.

Judge Patricia Santamaria sentenced Fuentes to a year in prison, with Labarta to serve four months. Under Spanish law prison terms of two years or less are automatically suspended unless those concerned have been found guilty of other offences.

It means that neither of the two found guilty today will spend time behind bars. In addition Santamaria has banned Fuentes from working as a sports doctor for just four years, although he can continue other medical practices unhindered. He has also been given a small fine.

Three others were cleared today: Fuentes’ sister Yolanda, a doctor based in Valencia, plus the former cycling team managers Vicente Belda and Manolo Saiz.

Fuentes and others were implicated when raids were carried out in Spain in May 2006. In addition to banned substances over 200 blood bags were seized . These related to a number of different sports, but cyclists were the only ones who were identified.

Jan Ullrich, Alejandro Valverde and Ivan Basso were amongst those implicated. Ullrich retired, while Valverde and Basso both faced bans from the sport.

WADA is keen to try to determine who else was a Fuentes client, and to give them sporting bans if possible. However a formal request from the agency and others to take possession of the blood bags was refused today by the judge.

Fuentes previously said that his clients included those from a number of other sports. They are thought to include competitors from football, athletics, tennis and basketball.

He denied the charges of crimes against public health, saying that none of his clients were adversely affected. However several riders spoke of health problems during the trial, with Jesus Manzano saying he twice fell extremely sick and Tyler Hamilton stated that he urinated a black substance after being given a blood bag during the 2004 Tour de France.


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