Spanish magazine Interviu has said that a former masseur with the Liberty Seguros team is the mystery witness that the World Anti-Doping Agency unsuccessfully sought to introduce in the Alberto Contador hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last year, and that he has claimed that the cyclist was given banned insulin injections during the 2005 Tour de France.
According to the unnamed witness, those injections, reports Interviu, were allegedly carried out under the supervision of the Spanish team’s doctor, Eufemiano Fuentes, the man at the centre of the Operacion Puerto doping scandal that broke in 2006 and who is due to stand trial in Spain alongside several other people in connection with that investigation.
Interviu states that the unnamed masseur provided a sworn declaration before a notary in May 2011 that “ A Contador was subject to insulin injections during the 2005 Tour de France. Eufemiano Fuentes was in fact the team doctor and insulin formed part of the treatment of all [riders].”
It’s unclear from the abridged version of Interviu’s article on its website whether it has actually identified the witness, or whether it is relying solely on documentation provided as part of the Contador CAS hearing; the reference to the sworn affidavit suggests the latter.
While the witness’s position within Liberty Seguros would be likely to enable the authorities to quickly identify the person concerned, it’s unlikely that the UCI, for example, would be able to order an investigation until the Operacion Puerto trial is over to avoid prejudicing it, although reports from Spain suggest that will not open until 2013.
It is however likely that if they have not already done so, the Spanish authorities would be eager to speak to the person concerned.
Contador himself was investigated in connection with Operacion Puerto in 2006, but later that year was cleared by the Spanish courts of any involvement, a point made by his lawyer’s at last year’s CAS hearing when WADA had attempted to introduce testimony from the mystery witness, who had sought anonymity due to fears for his own safety and that of his family.
Despite his lawyers successfully blocking that testimony, with no agreement reached on how to preserve the witness’s testimony, Contador is currently serving a two-year ban, most of it backdated, after CAS overturned the decision of the Spanish national cycling federation, the RFEC, not to sanction him as a result of his positive test for clenbuterol in the 2010 Tour de France.
As reported here on road.cc in February, initial speculation in the Spanish press had suggested that the mystery witness in the Contador case was a rider, with former Liberty Seguros team mates Jorg Jaksche and Michele Scarponi, both of whom had confessed to their involvement in Operacion Puerto, as being the most likely candidates.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.