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Fuentes: "High-level sport is not healthy"

By:
Hedwig Kröner, with assistance of Susan Westemeyer
Published:
July 06, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 20, 2009, 23:19 BST
Edition:
Latest Cycling News for July 6, 2006
Race:
Tour de France

In an extensive interview broadcast by Spanish radio Cadena Ser , gynaecologist and doping expert...

In an extensive interview broadcast by Spanish radio Cadena Ser, gynaecologist and doping expert Eufemiano Fuentes has talked about his behind-the-scenes activities in the sport. First of all, he insisted on his belief that he was not a criminal and only attended to his medical duty of preserving the athlete's health.

"I'm don't feel like a criminal; I haven't killed anyone and I haven't destroyed anyone's health," he said. "I'm a health professional; my priority is to cure my patients because I think that the sport at high level is not healthy. I'm accused of crime against public health, but they should sanction those who play at being doctors." So instead of boosting the rider's performances, Fuentes considered that he only "supplemented and adjusted" those bodily functions of the riders which showed a deficit.

"[Cyclists] are very special sportsmen because they reduce their heart rate by half when resting," he continued. "Their hearts are big, and when they stop cycling their hearts reduce their size to normal within six months, which results in what we call 'sudden death'."

Fuentes, who added that his treatments also concerned other sports than cycling (football, tennis, athletics), said that it was possible to ride the Tour de France without "medical" help, but not at that speed. "You just can't ride four of these mountain stages successively at that speed, it's very harmful," he said, adding that in his opinion it was more dangerous for a cyclist to start the Tour de France with a hematocrit level of 31 percent, than one of 51 percent - even though this meant that the rider would be excluded from competition.

The Madrid-based doctor named two cyclists, Alberto Contador and Vicente Ballester, but only to say that he did not know them and that he did not know why their names were on the list established by the Spanish criminal investigators. He also said that there were riders still participating in the Tour de France that he had treated and that he "had enough of the hypocrisy. The Tour direction sent home riders that I never treated, and there are now clients of mine in the peloton. I'm furious. People were named that I don't even know but other names were concealed."

Moreover, he stated that the bags of blood that were found were destined "for use in the next ten years", and that the quantities of EPO seized "for a family member who might need it." he also added that he had been threatened not to reveal any persons involved with him. Fuentes felt "lynched by the media" and "killed professionally".

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