Jörg Jaksche has presented a damning insight into the practices carried out by Eufemiano Fuentes, claiming that the Spanish doctor “never offered me treatment for health reasons, but for reasons related to doping.” Appearing as the Operación Puerto trial in Madrid went into its third week, the German ex-pro also declared that Manolo Saiz, his former team boss at ONCE and Liberty Seguros, both introduced him to and was fully aware of the relationship Jaksche had with Fuentes.
The German’s evidence could have a huge impact on the case, in which Fuentes, Saiz and three associates are facing a charge of crimes against public health. During his long spell on the witness stand, Jaksche alleged that Fuentes’s goal in providing treatment was not to ensure the good health of the athletes he was working with, as Fuentes has previously testified, but to find ways to evade the regulations that were then in force.
“Fuentes never spoke to me about the risks [involved in his treatment]… On occasions I couldn’t confirm that the blood he was giving me was from one of my bags. I asked him if it was mine and he told me it was. But I don’t know if it was,” said Jaksche, who admitted to being extremely concerned having heard that Tyler Hamilton, who was also working with Fuentes, had been given someone else’s blood. “I could have died,” said Jaksche.
The German added that both he and Fuentes knew that “the practices that Fuentes were offering us were banned in sport, although legally I don’t know whether that was the case.”
Jaksche detailed how his relationship with Fuentes developed, explaining that Saiz acted as the initial contact between him and the doctor.
“Saiz told me that I should have a new doctor and that he would put him in contact with me. Later on he told me that the new doctor would not be official,” said Jaksche, who said that he first spoke to Fuentes on the phone in December 2004 and then met him in person in Gran Canaria in January 2005.
“Eufemiano asked me what I technically wanted to get from doping and told me that he could get me all of the medical products. He told me that he could get me EPO, steroids, IGF-1, artificial haemoglobin and blood transfusions... He also gave me white powder in order to damage urine samples,” said Jaksche. He explained that Fuentes had carried out transfusions with him on 10-15 occasions, and on only two of these occasions were any blood tests been carried out by haemotologist José Luis Merino Batres, against whom charges have been dropped for health reasons.
Payments for Fuentes’s services were initially made by the management of the Liberty Seguros team, Jaksche claimed. He said that changed in 2005, apparently after his team-mate Isidro Nozal had been excluded from the Dauphiné Libéré for an elevated haematocrit. After that, Jaksche said he paid Fuentes directly by bank transfer into an HSBC account in Geneva. “Saiz was aware that I was still working with Fuentes and he also knew that I was paying him.”
Questioned by Tomás Valdivieso, a new lawyer representing Fuentes, who has apparently dismissed his previous legal adviser, Jaksche admitted that no one had pressurised him into doping. He also acknowledged that he had taken EPO before he had collaborated with Fuentes.
He alleged that he had been introduced to doping by his first team boss at Polti, Gianluigi Stanga. He added that he had also used EPO at Team Telekom. He also said he had doped during his time with CSC. “I doped from 1997 in every team I rode for,” he stated.
The judge in the Puerto case has denied a request made by Alberto Contador to give his evidence via a video link-up. Contador is due to testify as a defence witness for Saiz on February 22.
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).