• Spain's news in English
Sportsmen could be identified from blood in doping probe
Equipment seized during Operation Puerto in 2006. Photo: Guardia Civil.

Sportsmen could be identified from blood in doping probe

AFP · 14 Jun 2016, 13:10

Published: 14 Jun 2016 13:10 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A Spanish court on Tuesday reversed a decision to destroy blood bags seized as part of the Operation Puerto doping scandal, which may allow authorities to identify more sportspeople implicated in the high-profile case.

A major embarrassment for Spain, the case centres on disgraced doctor Eufemiano Fuentes who was found guilty of giving performance-enhancing blood transfusions to top cyclists, and also admitted to having worked with unidentified footballers, tennis players and boxers.

Fuentes was found guilty of endangering public health in a 2013 trial, but the judge at the time refused to give anti-doping authorities access to the 211 blood bags seized in 2006 from his apartments, and ordered them destroyed on privacy grounds.

On Tuesday, a court in Madrid reversed that decision, ruling that the bags be handed over to entities such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).   

"The stated aim is to fight doping," the court said in a statement, adding that there was "a risk that other sportspeople could be tempted by doping."   

So far only cyclists, including 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, have been publicly named as being Fuentes clients.   

But former cyclist Jesus Manzano, a whistleblower in the case, claims to have seen prominent footballers being treated by Fuentes.   

Tuesday's decision means that WADA, the International Cycling Union (UCI) and other anti-doping entities will be able to analyse the blood bags and identify other sportspeople who may have used the performance-enhancing transfusions.

Disgraced doctor absolved

Separately, the Madrid court also absolved Fuentes of endangering public health, on the grounds that the blood he used for transfusions was not medicine and thus did not come under the remit of that offence.    

Fuentes had been given a one-year suspended prison sentence and was banned from practising as a sports doctor for four years.    

He had been accused of endangering public health but not incitement to doping, which was not a crime in Spain at the time of his arrest in 2006.    

The case - and the judge's decision to destroy the blood bags - caused severe reputational damage to Madrid's ultimately failed bid for the 2020 Olympic Games and did little to dismiss accusations that Spain is a soft touch on doping.

"It is unfortunate that the evidence used in this proceeding is not now being made available to anti-doping organisations to further the fight against doping," the International Olympic Committee said in a statement at the time.    

Story continues below…

A lawyer representing cycling governing body UCI described the operation as "the biggest doping network the world has ever seen".    

Even tennis star Andy Murray waded in.    

"Operation puerto case is beyond a joke...biggest cover up in sports history? Why would court order blood bags to be destroyed? #coverup," he tweeted at the time.

"It's embarrassing for Spain," added former WADA head Dick Pound.    

"Everybody knows we will be able to uncover quite a bit more doping if the examples are made available."

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Two-headed shark born in Spanish laboratory
Scientists are studying the rare find. Photo: IBIMA / University of Malaga

Scientists at the University of Malaga found the embryo of a shark with two heads and just one body.

Spain under pressure to stop refuel of Russian warships
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is due to arrive in Ceuta. Photo: Mil Ru / Wikimedia

Spain is facing international pressure to refuse permission for a Russian warship flotilla to refuel in Ceuta en route to continuing airstrikes against the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Most wanted: Fugitive rapist arrested in Tenerife
Mohammed Jahangir Alam was arrested n Tenerife. Photo: Crimestoppers.

Mohammed Jahangir Alam, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, who fled the country in 2008 after allegedly raping a woman, was found working in Tenerife.

Spain's Rajoy says king has tasked him with forming govt
Photo: AFP

Spain's king on Tuesday tasked Mariano Rajoy with forming a government, taking the acting conservative prime minister a step closer to power again after a 10-month political deadlock.

Two imams arrested in Ibiza resort over 'Isis support'
The men were arrested in the resort of Sant Antoni de Portmany. Photo: Jose A / Flickr

Two Moroccan imams at a mosque on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of backing the Islamic State group and inciting jihad.

Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week as acting conservative PM Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Photo: Pan's Labyrinth

Forget flamenco dancers and bullfighters, The Local counts down the freakiest alternative costume ideas to dress up in this Halloween.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available