UCI to appeal decision to withhold Operacion Puerto blood bags
Governing body challenges Spanish court's decision not to provide access to doping case evidence
Word cycling's governing body, the UCI, has said that it is to appeal the decision of a Spanish court not to release 211 blood bags and associated evidence seized as part of the Operacion Puerto case.
Last month, following the verdict in the trial which saw the doctor at the centre of the case, Eufemiano Fuentes, and former Kelme/Comunidad Valencia sports director Ignacio Labarta found guilty of offences against public health, the judge presiding over the trial, Patricia Santamaria, ordered evidence seized by the Guardia Civil in 2006 to be destroyed.
That decision provoked outcry both within Spain and abroad, with the country's national anti-doping agency, the AEA, saying that it was considering an appeal, as is the World Anti-Doping Agency.
In a brief statement issued this afternoon, the UCI confirmed that it is to appeal, and it is likely to be joined in that by other organisations.
Access to the blood bags would enable DNA matches to be made to individual riders, exactly as happend with Alejandro Valverde, who had not been sanctioned by the Spanish national cycling federation but eventually received a two-year worldwide ban after a sample taken form him in Italy was found to match the DNA in one of the Operacion Puerto blood bags.
While press attention at the time the Puerto case broke in 2006 focused on cycling, Fuentes himself has made it clear that cyclists only made up around one in three of his clients, saying that athletes he treated also included footballers, boxers and tennis players, among others.