French newspaper defamed FC Barcelona in 2006, court rules
The French newspaper Le Monde was fined €15,000 after the Spanish supreme court decided its 2006 report linking FC Barcelona to the doping investigation Operación Puerto amounted to defamation.
In 2009, a Spanish court had fined Le Monde €300,000 for naming FC Barcelona in relation to the case. At that time, the author of the feature, Stéphane Mandard, said, "I hope Spanish justice will have courage to see the truth come out".
In this week's appeal case, the Supreme Court decided to cut drastically the fine but confirmed the legal fault of the newspaper.
In December 2006, Le Monde published a report that linked Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor who ran a Madrid clinic at which police found large quantities of banked blood and doping products, to Spanish football teams FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, FC Valence and Seville's Real Betis.
Dr Fuentes himself confirmed in the media that he had worked with athletes from several sports, including tennis, athletics, boxing, football as well as cyclists. Officially closed in September 2008, Operación Puerto has been said to involve more than 200 athletes, but only cyclists have been named as clients. To date only Ivan Basso, Alejandro Valverde and Michele Scarponi have been officially sanctioned by the UCI in relation to the case.
While Fuentes did not name football players or teams, Mandard said he had obtained from unnamed sources several documents allegedly showing doping programs for players on the 2005-2006 FC Barcelona team. That year was the most successful for the "Barça", which captured the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup.
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