Spanish cyclists doping scandal trial continues

The ongoing Operation Puerto trial in Madrid today heard further evidence against the main defendant.

Eufemio Fuentes and four co-defendants stand accused of crimes against public health, which carry a maximum jail sentence of two years if they are found guilty.

The defendants have always maintained that while they did perform transfusions, they were carried out under almost clinical conditions and never endangered the health of their clients. As doping was not a crime under Spanish law in 2006, Fuentes and his co-defendants stand accused of crimes against public health.

The case is based around the cyclists but evidence suggests that the scandal of doping and freezing blood for use in competitions could have been used by footballers and athletes.

 Tyler Hamilton,who is a witness for the World Anti-Doping Agency spoke via videolink from the Spanish embassy in Washington on Tuesday. He testified that he had been given transfusions by Alberto Leon who committed suicide in 2010 when the Operation Greyhound doping investigation into athletics was revealed. Leon was Fuentes runner and cleaner. 

Leon, who had no medical training and no licence to perform transfusions, would carry out his work in hotel rooms without any prophylaxes, Hamilton said.

Hamilton told the court how his professional relationship with Fuentes began in 2002, in a motorway lay-by between Girona and Valencia. He said he saw Fuentes ‘around 15 times’ after that first meeting.

‘The main thing we spoke about that day were the transfusions. I knew he could get me EPO, testosterone and other doping products. He offered me these plus growth hormone and insulin.’  Hamilton continued, ‘I paid between €25,000 and €30,000 a year. Doping products were paid for separately. In 2004 the price went up to €50,000 because of the Siberia freezing system.’ A system used by Fuentes to freeze the cyclist’s blood for use in future transfusions.

In July 2004 during the Tour of Spain Hamilton was given a transfusion that gave him a fever. When the positive test for a transfusion came back, Hamilton was told why he had been caught. They told him he had another person’s blood in his body.

The trial is expected to last until April.

by SGL




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