Spanish doctor convicted over doping

Archive photo of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, April 2013Eufemiano Fuentes administered blood transfusions to top cyclists

A Spanish doctor accused of running one of the world’s largest sports doping rings has been sentenced to a year in prison for endangering public health.

Judges convicted Eufemiano Fuentes over his role in supplying blood transfusions to cyclists.

He was charged under public health laws because doping was not illegal in Spain at the time.

A former cycle team official was sentenced to four months in jail, while three other defendants were cleared.

Police found some 200 bags of frozen blood and plasma when they raided Fuentes’ offices in 2006.

The Operation Puerto doping trial focused on cycling. Dozens of cyclists were implicated, though few have been sanctioned.

As well as handing Fuentes the one year suspended sentence, the court in Madrid struck him off as a medical doctor for four years.

It sentenced Ignacio Labarta, a former official in the Kelme cycling team, to four months in prison.

Two other former cycling team officials, Manolo Saiz and Vicente Belda, were cleared, as was Fuentes’ sister and fellow doctor Yolanda.

Spanish anti-doping officials and the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) believe that athletes from other sports were involved in the doping ring, and have asked for access to the blood bags collected from Fuentes’ offices.

But Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria on Tuesday declined to grant them access, AFP news agency reported.

During the trial, Fuentes said he had worked with athletes, footballers and boxers, as well as cyclists, though he did not say whether he had helped them dope.

The bags of blood found in Fuentes’ offices were labelled with codenames, which are believed to relate to well-known cyclists and possibly other athletes.

Fuentes maintained that the aim of the blood transfusions was to protect athletes’ health and improve their performance during training.

Spain has passed anti-doping legislation since 2006, and parliament is expected to vote on an anti-doping bill later this year that would bring Spanish law into line with Wada’s guidelines.

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