MADRID, Nov 23, 2011 (AFP) – Spanish medical doctor Eufemiano Fuentes and
six others will go on trial over a doping scandal that rocked world cycling in
2006, said a judge’s ruling released Wednesday.
The seven suspects will be tried for a crime “against public health” over
the allegations, which surfaced in 2006, said the ruling by Judge Antonio
A date must now be fixed for the trial.
Prosecutors are seeking two years’ jail and professional bans for the same
period against the accused, saying they engaged in acts “to artificially
enhance the performance of cyclists.”
Spanish police mounted “Operation Puerto” in May 2006 against the suspected
blood doping ring.
At the time prosecutors accused Fuentes and Jose Luis Merino, haemotology
chief at Madrid’s La Princesa hospital, of drawing blood from competitors and
then re-injecting it to boost their oxygen-carrying red blood cell count.
In 2006, Spanish police said they had seized up to 200 blood packs in the
apartments of Fuentes and Merino, accused of being paid for their services by
cycling competitors and officials.
A judge had closed the case in 2007 saying the accused could not be charged
with with a crime against public health. But it was reopened a year later when
prosecutors appealed to the Madrid provincial court.
Prosecutors had few other options because a law against trafficking in
doping products only came into force in February 2007.
Those now facing trial are Fuentes, his sister Yolanda Fuentes, doctors
Jose Luis Merino and Alfredo Cordova, and former cycling team sports officials
Manolo Saiz, Jose Ignacio Labarta and Vicente Belda.
The scandal led to the expulsion of several favourites on the eve of the
2006 Tour de France including Italian Ivan Basso, German Jan Ullrich and
Spaniard Francisco Mancebo.
Ullrich announced his retirement and Basso was suspended for two years by
the Italian Cycling Federation as a result.