The notorious doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes could be the key to opening up the secrets of doping in football, according to the director general of the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency, Ana Munoz.
Munoz has stated her intention to make contact with Julia Patricia Santamaria, the judge in Fuentes's trial in Madrid on public health charges - to find out the extent to which he was aiding athletes from other disciplines.
As we reported last week, Fuentes has already stated that he may be prepared to assist anti-doping authorities, including providing the names of the athletes to whom the blood in bags taken by the police as part of the investigation belongs.
“On the day the trial ends, me personally, I will go and ask the judge to give me all the documents as well as all the blood bags,” Muno told the Scotsman last week.
“Then we will undertake every action to find and identify the athletes and sports involved in the Fuentes case.”
It is known that Fuentes had more than 200 athletes on his books and only 50-60 of them were cyclists.
Only his work with cyclists can be mentioned as part of his current trial, but Munoz could ask the judge to lift the ban after the verdict is handed down.
According to a report on Yahoo! Eurosport, Fuentes, who is currently on trial in Madrid on public health charges, told reporters outside the court: "If they believe that I am useful and they ask me I would consider it and I would be ready.
"What I don't know is if what I could contribute would be worth anything to them or not," he went on, saying that he had a “mutual collaboration" in mind. "If they want my involvement to include the list they would have it."
While cycling has been the sport most under scrutiny in connection with the scandal ever since it broke in 2006, and a number of riders have provided testimony at the trial, Fuentes has always insisted that cyclists accounted for only three in ten of his clients.
He himself implicated footballers, saying when asked which clubs were involved: “I can’t tell, I have received death threats. I was told that, if I told certain things, my family and myself could have serious problems. I’ve been threatened three times and it’s not going to happen a fourth time. There are sports against which you cannot go against, because they have access to very powerful legal means to defend themselves.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has asked to be given access to the evidence, including blood bags, seized under the investigation, so far without success.
However, a lawyer for the Spanish government involved in the case said last week that blood samples, but not the bags themselves, would be released to WADA once the trial is over.
Fuentes and his co-defendants face penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment if found guilty, with closing statements due to begin on 2 April.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.