by Christophe LEHOUSSE
MADRID, Jan 29, 2013 (AFP) – A Spanish doctor on trial over a major blood
doping racket involving top professional cyclists said Tuesday he had worked
for athletes in “all kinds” of sports.
“I worked on a private basis with individual sport spersons of all kinds,”
Eufemanio Fuentes, 57, who is charged with public health offences, told the
court in Madrid.
Police detained Fuentes in 2006 when they seized 200 bags of blood and
other evidence of performance-enhancing transfusions, in an investigation
dubbed “Operation Puerto”.
Fuentes, who is on trial along with his sister and three other defendants,
told the court on Tuesday that “most” of the sportspersons he was working for
in 2006 were cyclists.
Investigators at the time listed 58 cyclists suspected in the scandal.
Of the 58, only six have received sporting sanctions: Spain’s Alejandro
Valverde, Germans Jan Ullrich and Joerg Jaksche and Italians Ivan Basso,
Michele Scarponi and Giampaolo Caruso, who was later cleared by the Court of
Arbitration for Sport.
Fuentes’s lawyer Julian Perez-Templado told AFP after Monday’s hearing that
the doctor would not reveal the names of any more of his clients.
The defendants are charged with endangering public health rather than
incitement to doping, which was not a crime in Spain at the time of the
Fuentes denies that his treatment endangered the cyclists’ health.
He told the court that athletes in various sports came to him for “medical
and nutrional advice, physical and medical tests to guarantee that their
health would not suffer”.
“Some wanted monitoring for a whole season, others had diseases, or a
particular injury, or they wanted advice for a particular event,” he said.
The trial in Madrid will do little to boost the credibility of a sport
reeling from US rider Lance Armstrong’s admission that he doped his way to a
record seven Tour de France wins.
A court official said Tuesday that Armstrong’s former team-mate Tyler
Hamilton will testify at the Madrid trial, after the judge granted a request
by the World Anti-Doping Agency, a civil party in the case.
Other trial witnesses include Alberto Contador, Tour de France winner in
2007 and 2009, who returned to competition last year after a two-year ban
related to a separate case in which he denied doping.
The 30-year-old Contador, due to appear on February 5, was cleared of any
involvement in the Puerto affair by a Spanish judge and the sport’s world
governing body the International Cycling Union.
The date for Hamilton’s testimony had yet to be set. The trial is scheduled
to last until March 22.