Contador and Basso said to be among Operacion Puerto witnesses when trial begins in January

Dr Eufamiano Fuentes among six accused of crime relating to blood doping ring broken up in 2006

by Simon_MacMichael   September 21, 2012  

Syringe

Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso are among 35 witnesses who will be called in the Operacion Puerto trial when it opens in Madrid on 28 January next year, nearly seven years after the blood doping scandal broke, reports Spanish newspaper El Pais.

The trial, which will be presided over by Julia Patricia Santamaria Matesanz, is expected to last nearly two months.

Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, former doctor to the Liberty Seguros-Würth team which counted Contador and Michele Scarponi among its riders at the time and who was seen as the mastermind of the alleged doping ring, is one of six people accused, each facing a jail sentence of up to two years if found guilty, although certain charges against some of the accused carry a penalty of four years.

Also in the dock on charges relating to crimes against public health are two other doctors, Fuentes’ sister Yolanda and José Luis Merino Batres, plus former team managers Manolo Saiz and Vicente Belda and trainer Ignacio Labarta.

Operacion Puerto hit the headlines in May 2006 when officers from the Guardia Civil raided a number of addresses in Madrid and seized bags of blood.

The scandal led to a number of riders being placed under investigation, many of them, such as Jan Ullrich - sanctioned earlier this year for his part in the affair - being withdrawn by their teams from that year’s Tour de France.

Astana-Würth, the new name of the Liberty Seguros-Würth team following a mid-season change of sponsor after the insurance company withdrew its backing, also succumbed to pressure and pulled out of the race.

Basso and Scarponi were among riders to receive bans connected to Operacion Puerto, but while a number of Spanish riders including Contador were implicated in the scandal, no rider from that country was ever sanctioned by the national anti-doping authorities.

Alejandro Valverde, not named as a potential witness in El Pais, did eventually receive a two-year ban after Italian Olympic Committee CONI determined that DNA from a sample taken from him when the Tour de France visited Italy was a match for a blood sample seized during Operacion Puerto.

CONI banned the Spaniard from competing in Italy and the World Anti-Doping Agency and UCI successfully applied to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have that ban extended worldwide.

While it was cyclists who were the main focus of official investigations and press interest in the wake of Operacion Puerto, the trial could be an uncomfortable prospect for athletes competing in other sports.

Fuentes himself has said that his clients included leading Spanish football teams and tennis players, while among those called as witnesses are the former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano, who has claimed that he saw football players from La Liga clubs at the doctor’s clinic.

8 user comments

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I wonder what Contador will have to say as he appears an unrepentant/in denial about his doping.

posted by kitkat [198 posts]
21st September 2012 - 12:25

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'It weren't me Gov'

antonio

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posted by antonio [947 posts]
21st September 2012 - 13:00

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Dr F didn't have any steaks in his fridge by any chance did he? Devil

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posted by bikeandy61 [388 posts]
21st September 2012 - 13:19

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Are they selling tickets? Should be a good show; but cycling being dragged through the mud.....again

posted by SideBurn [785 posts]
21st September 2012 - 14:52

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There's nothing like having a trial hot on the heels of the events in question....

As many people have said previously, it's a shame that the only sport people think of when Puerto is mentioned is cycling. What happened to the footballers, tennis players etc who were supposed to have been caught up in it?

posted by Sadly Biggins [264 posts]
21st September 2012 - 15:52

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My thoughts entirely Sadly Biggins; there is an old saying, "Don't look under stones if you do don't want to find what is under them!"

posted by SideBurn [785 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 9:23

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SideBurn wrote:
My thoughts entirely Sadly Biggins; there is an old saying, "Don't look under stones if you do don't want to find what is under them!"

Could it be a UCI quote/

antonio

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posted by antonio [947 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 9:38

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antonio wrote:
SideBurn wrote:
My thoughts entirely Sadly Biggins; there is an old saying, "Don't look under stones if you do don't want to find what is under them!"

Could it be a UCI quote/

I was more thinking FIFA and governing bodies other than the UCI but yes you could be right!

posted by SideBurn [785 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 15:20

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