The managers of the 2006 Liberty Seguros and Communidad Valenciana teams, Manolo Saiz and Vicente Belda, were acquitted in the Operación Puerto case by judge Julia Patricia Santamaria today, and both expressed their satisfaction with the verdict.
The co-defendants Eufemiano Fuentes and José Ignacio Labarta, the assistant directeur sportif under Belda, were found guilty. Fuentes was given a one-year suspended jail sentence, while Labarta was given a four-month suspended sentence for their part in facilitating blood doping by a number of cyclists.
"This is finished, and I can only hope that no one reminds me of anything from Operación Puerto ever again," Saiz told AS. com.
"I am very grateful to my family, lawyer, and a friend from cycling, Carlos Sastre, because he was the only one who had the courage when he won the Tour de France, to remember good things about Manolo Saiz. It was a difficult time and made it to the international press."
Belda described the years since the 2006 case came to light as "seven years of torture", and was pleased to finally be acquitted. "It has been said of us that we were a criminal plot," Belda said. "Inside I was calm, satisfied, and confident in justice. These stories have been pretty clear. Now that is over, I ask you to please forget Operación Puerto."
Saiz has an additional reason to celebrate today: the money that was seized on the day of his arrest on May 23, 2006 has finally been returned to him: 42,224.10 euros, 38,500 Swiss francs and 310 Australian dollars.
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