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Fuentes sentenced as Puerto case closed

ESPN staff
April 30, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Tyler Hamilton was called to give evidence against Dr Eufemiano Fuentes © PA Photos
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Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes has been given a suspended one-year jail sentence, fined €4,500 and had his sports medicine license withdrawn for four years after being found guilty of public health offences.

Fuentes and his co-accused were not charged with doping, as that was not illegal in Spain during the time in question, but he and ex-cycling coach Ignacio Labarta were found to have carried out medical procedures in an unsafe environment. Labarta was given a four-month sentence under Article 361 of the Spanish penal code. Neither man is expected to actually serve any time in prison.

Former cycling team directors Manolo Saiz [Liberty Seguros-Wurth] and Vicente Belda [Kelme] and Fuentes' sister Yolanda, also a doctor, were acquitted in the verdict announced by Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria in Madrid on Tuesday.

Fuentes and others were implicated when raids were carried out in Spain in May 2006 as part of Operacion Puerto, leading to the seizure of a varity of banned substances and over 200 blood bags. Athletes from a range of sports were implicated by the evidence, but only the cyclists invovled were identified.

Santamaria ordered that evidence collected during the investigation be destroyed, not handed to WADA or the Spanish anti-doping agency [AEA] for further investigation.

Many in Spain had called for an "exemplary verdict" to show the country was serious about combatting the use of drugs in sport. But the sentence - and apparent unwillingness to uncover the names of more past clients of Fuentes - was met with widespread disappointment in the local media.

The three-month court case heard detailed evidence of blood extractions and transfusions taking place in hotel rooms in Spain, of blood being stored in domestic fridges and transported in carrier bags more typically used to take refreshments to the beach.

While leading professional cyclists, including Tyler Hamilton, Jesus Manzano and Jorge Jaschke, were called as witnesses, the trial did not probe evidence of doping in other sports. WADA and AEA had both hoped to mount their own enquiries using evidence found by the Puerto investigators, but confiscated computers and 211 bags of blood from 35 unknown sportspeople are reportedly to be destroyed once the sentences have been confirmed. AEA chief Ana Munoz is expected to seek a legal challenge to overturn the denial of access to these materials.

Fuentes, who was employed by Las Palmas when the club was promoted to La Liga in 2000/01, has hinted that he treated top La Liga players in the past, but claims death threats have forced him not to reveal further details.

Former Real Sociedad president Inaki Badiola told AS in February that the doctor worked for the Basque club in the past, and the code 'RSOC' appeared in documents relating to blood transfusions during the trial. Sociedad, and its former president Jose Luis Astiazaran, have strongly denied Badiola's claims.

Real Madrid and Barcelona both took legal action in 2009 to force Le Monde to withdraw allegations Fuentes had worked for both clubs in the past. The French newspaper also said Valencia and Real Betis had been among his other clients. In February Spanish FA president Angel Maria Villar dismissed allegations of doping in La Liga as "anecdotes".

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