With the conclusion of the criminal case against Eufemiano Fuentes in the long-running Operación Puerto doping case, the Spanish courts are set to destroy the evidence collected from the Madrid clinic in 2006. 211 bags of stored blood and plasma, currently being stored in Barcelona, are facing imminent destruction unless appeals by the Spanish minister of sport, together with the UCI and World Anti-doping Agency are accepted.
Even with the new UCI rules incorporating an extended statute of limitations, any anti-doping rule violations must be prosecuted by June, 2016 - and meeting that deadline is currently being blocked by the Spanish courts.
Both organisations confirmed to Cyclingnews that they have filed a joint appeal in the matter, but refused to comment further.
“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has appealed jointly with WADA and Spanish Authorities against the blood bag destruction order," a UCI spokesperson said. "Although we haven’t been notified by the Spanish authorities about its destruction, we can only express our concern about any decision that could delay or disrupt the resolution of the Puerto case. As it is an ongoing procedure, no further comment will be made at this stage.”
A WADA spokesman said that the appeal to gain the release of the blood evidence was filed back in May of 2013, which was prior to the old statute of limitations of eight years.
"WADA has still not yet been notified whether or not a hearing will take place. The WADA Foundation Board has previously expressed its disappointment at the substantial delay in the case, and stated that lack of progress was sending the wrong message to clean athletes across the world.
The Operación Puerto case erupted prior to the 2006 Tour de France when then Liberty Seguros manager Manolo Saiz was arrested in connection to the investigation into a doping ring in Madrid. It was estimated that almost 60 athletes from cycling, football and tennis were involved in the doping activities, but to date only five professional cyclists have been officially sanctioned for their involvement: Alejandro Valverde, Jan Ullrich, Michele Scarponi, Ivan Basso and Jörg Jacksche.
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.
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