Judge orders blood bags destroyed
With the conclusion of the criminal trial which found Eufemiano Fuentes and Jose Ignacio Labarta guilty of crimes against public health in relation to blood doping activities uncovered in Operación Puerto, the judge Julia Patricia Santamaria has ordered that the blood evidence collected be destroyed. However, the head of the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency has said she will appeal the destruction order to the provincial court of Madrid.
"For the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency it is very important to know the whole truth and, with this sentence, we only know a part of the truth," said director Ana Muñoz, according to the Associated Press. "We know the truth that says that Dr. Fuentes is not a good doctor because he did some practices that are very bad for the health of athletes. But, on the other hand, it is necessary to know the names of the athletes."
Muñoz's agency, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the UCI would like to have access to the blood bags in order to positively identify the other athletes who engaged in doping practices, in which Fuentes collected blood, stored and then reinfused it to help riders gain an edge during competition.
WADA general director David Howman said, "WADA is currently fully reviewing the decision and any possible appeal or other action with its Spanish legal advisors, and the Spanish National Anti-Doping Organization (AEA).
"The decision to order the destruction of all the blood bags is particularly disappointing and unsatisfactory for WADA, and the whole anti-doping community."
The Spanish courts have been blocking the release of this evidence since the case first went to court in 2006. The original judge refused to allow any evidence to be used for sporting punishment, since doping was not against the law at the time these activities were taking place.
There are reportedly some 35 individuals associated with the 211 bags in evidence, and there has been speculation that these athletes may not have only been from the sport of cycling, but also from football or tennis.
Unless the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency can be successful in its appeal, the evidence is due to be destroyed after any appeals by the plaintiffs, should any be lodged, are completed.
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