Barcelona’s Anti-Doping Lab director Jordi Segura has confirmed during the ongoing Puerto trial that 173 blood bags of the original 224 seized by police were taken to his laboratory, where they still remain.
However, the location of the other 51 blood bags remains as yet unclear. In all the testimonies so far, both by the defendants and witnesses from laboratories and different police departments, there has been no hint as to where they could be, assuming they have not been destroyed.
The reason why Segura’s lab, rather than the Anti-Doping laboratory in Madrid, looked after the other 173 blood bags was purely a question of space - the Barcelona lab had bigger storage facilities. Segura told the court on Tuesday that although the police reports initially reported that a delivery of 100 bags of frozen plasma was handed over, one of the codes was repeated on two bags, effectively making it 99, with a further 73 bags, mostly of complete red blood cells, coming later.
A few years ago, artificial EPO was confirmed to have been discovered in eight of the 99 bags in the first delivery, which sounds like a relatively low number. But Segura clarified on Tuesday that in fact they could not rule out its presence in the other 91 bags, because they had only tested for the artificial version of the hormone in bags with high levels of EPO.
The 173 bags have remained in Barcelona since 2006, with only the bags requested by the Italian legal commission during the Valverde case in Italy and by the Bonn commission looking into Ullrich’s involvement in Puerto subjected to further analysis.
Both WADA and the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency (AEA) have asked for access to the bags to test them for DNA, but a ruling will not be made until the case is completed, hopefully by mid-March.
While 51 blood bags from Puerto remain missing, Katusha rider Angel Vicioso, whom the courts had been unable to locate to make his declarations in the case, was reported by Spanish newspaper El País on Wednesday finally to have been tracked down – in Andorra.
Vicioso was originally due to declare in Puerto alongside former Liberty and ONCE riders Joseba Beloki, Isidro Nozal and David Extebarría last Friday, but his statement was postponed for medical reasons. Since then, he appeared to have gone AWOL and, the judge in the case said she would consider having him brought in by the Civil Guard if he did not appear.
Finally, though, Vicioso has been located: according to El País, he has recently moved to Andorra earlier this year and was not aware that he was proving so difficult to find. Vicioso will now declare this Friday alongside another former Liberty rider, Marcos Serrano. Vicioso has already made a sworn statement in 2007 that he did not know Fuentes.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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