WADA chief slams Operacion Puerto trial's focus on cycling

David Howman says Spanish authorities should share list of names from all sports implicated in doping scandal

by Simon_MacMichael   January 23, 2013  


David Howman, director general of the World Anti Doping Agency, has expressed his frustration that the Operacion Puerto trial will only focus on cycling and that Spanish authorities have not released details of athletes implicated in the scandal. The trial, with defendants include Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of the investigation, opens in Madrid on Monday.

Fuentes himself is on record as saying that cyclists only made up around a third of his client base and that he also counted tennis players, footballers and track and field athletes among his customers. He has even said that if he revealed everything he knew, Spain would be stripped of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The case, however, will reportedly only concentrate on the activities in cycling of Fuentes and the other defendants, who include former ONCE and Liberty Seguros boss Manolo Saiz, a decision strongly criticised by Howman. They are charged with public health offences, since doping itself wasn’t criminalised in Spain at the time concerned.

“We have been banging our heads against a brick wall to get access to the evidence that was gathered,” he told Telegraph.co.uk. “It is not only frustrating and disappointing but it also means that many athletes who might be dirty have been allowed to compete.

“We were always told that the patients this man was treating were across a number of sports so it was disappointing that cycling was the only sport isolated,” he added.

Operacion Puerto has its roots in whistleblowing allegations made by the former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano against that team, which employed Fuentes as its doctor, dating back to the 2003 season. That case was dropped, but Manzano’s testimony, including his insistence that the physician’s clients also comprised leading footballers, tennis players and track and field athletes.

From the moment the scandal broke in May 2006, the focus in the media and, it appears, among investigators and prosecutors, was almost exclusively on cycling. Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi and Jan Ullrich are among the riders who have been sanctioned due to links to Fuentes after law enforcement officials seized around 100 bags of blood stored at his clinic.

While a number of Spanish riders, including Alberto Contador who will be among a number of cyclists testifying during the trial, were placed under formal investigation, none was ever charged by the authorities in that country.

Indeed, the only rider from Spain to have been banned as a result of Operacion Puerto is Alejandro Valverde after the Italian Olympic Committee, CONI, matched his DNA from a sample taken from him when the Tour de France visited Italy to blood in one of those bags seized from Fuentes. WADA and the UCI successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to have his ban extended worldwide.

According to the former Liberty Seguros rider Jörg Jaksche, Fuentes spoke openly about working with athletes from other sports and he also believes that the doctor was working with footballers during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which was held in Germany.

“Yes, for sure he was involved [in other sports] and when he talked about it he was quite proud,” said Jaksche, who is scheduled to testify during the Operacion Puerto trial and also gave evidence to the United States Anti Doping Agency as part of the investigation into US Postal and Lance Armstrong, in which he said the UCI had “zero interest” in following up the information he provided about doping.

Speaking about Operacion Puerto, he said: “If you watch the videos made by the police during the raid at one stage they open the fridge and pull out blood bags.

“They have certain code names written on them but these names never appear in the report and I think there is a big cover-up by the Spanish government,” he continued. “There is no interest from on high in too much information coming out.”

Jaksche added that he had been quizzed by investigators in Germany about whether he had met with Fuentes in Frankfurt during 2006.

“I said no because normally he would only go to Germany if there was a stage of the Tour de France there but I think the truth is in 2006 there was the soccer World Cup in Germany and the German police knew something about it but didn’t have the whole information.”

Fuentes found himself at the centre of another doping scandal when he was arrested in December 2010 in connection with Operacion Galgo. Marta Dominguez, steeplechase world champion at the time, was charged with doping and dealing in banned substances but was acquitted when it transpired that the drugs in question were not illegal under Spanish law.

Another Spanish athlete, Ethiopian-born European cross-country champion Alemayehu Bezabeh was actually caught by the Guardia Civil with a bag of his own blood that was apparently intended to be used for an illegal auto-transfusion, and confessed to being part of the doping ring at the centre of Operacion Galgo.

However, the Spanish athletics federation decided there was insufficient evidence against him – the athlete later claimed that the the blood was to be analysed for a liver problem – and he escaped sanction.

To date no charges have been brought against Fuentes in connection with Operacion Galgo.

20 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Someone talking good sense at WADA, it isn't just cycling - but where have these other names mentioned been publicly seen? If there is a big problem (the 2010 world cup team stripped of their title - sounds like a serious matter) then it needs to be in the open.
Let's hope they can open things up and clean up all sport, even the very big money ones, what a task.


posted by doc [167 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 12:23


The 'no problem in tennis' crowd are begining to look like the Lance defenders!

posted by georgee [158 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 12:42


A damning indictment of how corrupt sport is and how far the corruption leads IMHO

Ah, but that was then

posted by Pitstone Peddler [104 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 12:45


If I remember correctly the journalists who alleged that Dr Fuentes said something about the Spanish world cup team were successfully sued?

posted by SideBurn [912 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 13:02


Utter disgrace, these people make me sick

posted by mikeprytherch [220 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 13:08


SideBurn wrote:
If I remember correctly the journalists who alleged that Dr Fuentes said something about the Spanish world cup team were successfully sued?

History repeats itself yet again.

Ah, but that was then

posted by Pitstone Peddler [104 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 13:26


Odds on that this investigation will be a sham.

posted by jarderich [91 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 13:38


SideBurn wrote:
If I remember correctly the journalists who alleged that Dr Fuentes said something about the Spanish world cup team were successfully sued?

No, a certain Spanish - some of its fans might say Catalan - football team successfully sued Le Monde in respect of separate allegations involving Fuentes.

Nothing to do with this specific quote.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9368 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 13:47


Cycling has already got a tarnished reputation so who cares if we drag that through the mud yet again? God forbid though that any other sport be investigated, you wouldn't want to besmirch the reputation of football/tennis etc. The reality is that these sports have far bigger financial incentives than cycling BUT people still think (delude themselves) that their chosen sport is the pure one.

As said though it will be a farce, nothing will come out about other sports, the media will concentrate on the filth of cycling and the world continues to spin.

Just a shame, would be nice just to be able to give a knowing look to all the "holier than thou" footy fans for a change rather than being made to feel like one of the dopers.

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [483 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 13:57


Do WADA not have any rights to force all the evidence to be presented to them as the World governing body? While I appreciate that Puerto was a Spanish criminal investigation surely the evidence gathered is of vital importance to WADA's task. I appreciate that maybe Puerto has to be processed first but once that is done can't WADA be given everything collected so they can build their own cases?

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [483 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 14:01


why can't we have the full list in a court of law? or are people too high up the tree involved.

Sounds more and more like the armstrong defence is becoming the norm.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1860 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 14:08


It appears that the Catalan football team Simon refers to (and therefore the Spanish national team which is made up mainly of its players) runs on dope. The players cover huge distances each and every game (Xavi over 12 km a game, for example) with barely a bead of sweat on the forehead or a hair out of place at the end of the game. It's the footballing equivalent of the little pistol boy trading sprints up gruesome climbs with Rasmussen in the 07 Tour.

dullard's picture

posted by dullard [140 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 16:10


To me, this is worse than the actual doping. Boosting yourself with dodgy stuff because you're in that bubble when winning means everything and you're scared of having to find a real job is a sh!tty thing to do, and you should be kicked out of competition, if only for a couple of years. However, sitting in an office, and making a clinical decision to turn a blind eye to all these healthy young people potentially risking their health, just to prevent egg on your face and protect the funding, is far, far worse.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3705 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 16:12


I know it is wrong to want other sports to be dragged through the mud, but I have had so much negative comment directed at me because of that knob-head; it would be nice to say,"I told you so". Having several football supporters telling me that EPO is no good for footballers is wearing thin. They do not even seem to realise that EPO is just one of many substances used. Hopefully this f****r will be hung out to dry along with ALL his 'customers' Devil I have even read on the internet that it is not the football players fault if they are given dodgy stuff by their club Thinking

posted by SideBurn [912 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 17:35


Nadal anyone?

posted by HovetonHurricane [1 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 19:46


Operacion puerto ? WHAT A FARCE !

Take a look at these links :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Iy1XTxYC98 Lance song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SUKZD6eqgo&feature=youtu.be lance parody

These are probably off topic , but , the Spanish are unlikely to reveal anything , other than the way Lance treats truth !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [406 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 21:32


Is there no freedom of information in the European court system? Make them spill the beans.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1103 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 22:39


The lesson from cycling and athletics has been well learned by other sports - whatever you do don't catch drug cheats, because it is only when they are caught that the media takes any interest, catching cheats is bad for your sport, and sponsors don't like it. The whole thing is a charade, and the influence and power of those in control is here being clearly demonstrated. Feed the media the cycling dopers and the public won't ask any questions. It also demonstrates how controlled main stream media is, no-one I know outside of cycling circles has ever heard of operation puerto. Clearly the sport sponsors are also the big advertisers, and no-one dares upset them.

posted by imaca [57 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 22:54


Tennis, football and Rugby should be very worried..........

Brummmie's picture

posted by Brummmie [56 posts]
24th January 2013 - 10:39


Brummmie wrote:
Tennis, football and Rugby should be very worried..........

Spanish-Rugby, what next garlic-bread?

I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1750 posts]
24th January 2013 - 18:08