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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 has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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