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Court orders release of Operacion Puerto blood bags

Could identities of athletes involved in scandal finally be revealed after more than a decade?

The identities of the athletes whose blood was seized by Spanish authorities under the 2006 Operacion Puerto anti-doping case may be made public after a court in Madrid authorised the release of blood bags to CONI, the Italian national Olympic Committee.

The decision of the Criminal Chamber Number 21 overturns a previous one in May 2017, reports Spanish sports daily As.

The court also reportedly ordered the destruction of medicines and computer equipment seized during the investigation, which centred on sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

According to As, the World Anti-Doping Agency has already identified 29 athletes – 26 men and three women – after testing the contents of the blood bags at a laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland.

However, a stature of limitations and the prospect of litigation means the names have never been published.

The only Spanish athlete ever to serve a ban in connection with Operacion Puerto was Alejandro Valverde, who last month won the road cycling world championship at the age of 38.

It was CONI that in 2009 matched a sample of blood from Valverde taken when he was racing in Italy with blood seized as part of Operacion Puerto.

Initially it banned him for two years from competing in Italy, but in May 2010 the Court of Arbitration for Sport imposed a two—year ban on him, backdated to 1 January of that year.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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