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Unai Etxebarria thinking
Former Vuelta stage winner gets official retraction from ABC media outlet
Former Euskaltel-Euskadi rider Unai Etxebarria has been awarded damages of more than 30,000 euros by the supreme court in the Basque Country after newspapers in the Grupo Vocento media group erroneously linked him with the Operación Puerto blood doping investigation.
Etxebarria, who rode for Euskaltel between 1996 and his retirement in 2007, was awarded 31,583 euros after the court ruled that El Correo Español, El Diario Vasco and ABC were incorrect in stating on June 30, 2006 that he was one of the many riders listed who had links to Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, who had been accused of involvement in a blood doping ring. The court stated that the publication of Etxebarria’s name on a list of riders suspected to have links with Fuentes was wrong and, therefore, “constituted illegitimate interference on his honour”.
According to the Deia newspaper in the Basque Country, the court also ruled that the editors involved on the various publications did not act with proper diligence with regard to checking the information on Etxebarria, which consequently resulted in damage being caused to his image. Euskaltel team manager Miguel Madariaga was quick to deny all links between his rider and Fuentes, whose alleged involvement in a blood doping ring had been revealed in May 2006.
The court also said that ABC had not been diligent in its response to print a retraction of the story. Whereas El Correo Español and El Diario Vasco published articles stating that Etxebarria had no link to Fuentes within 24 hours of their original stories, ABC took no similar action. ABC blamed its lack of response on a breakdown in internal communication and on Etxebarria’s failure to request a retraction.