Saturday 17 March 2018

Operation Puerto: Spanish court insists blood bags are released

A court in Madrid has ruled that blood bags from the Operation Puerto doping scandal must be handed over to the relevant authorities for investigation.

The announcement came on Tuesday morning, 10 years after a series of police raids uncovered 200 bags of blood and plasma in the offices of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes.

The decision came following the hugely controversial 2013 court ruling to destroy all the blood bags pertaining to the trial and came after one or two false starts earlier this year.

In January, the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) said it expected the Spanish courts to announce a decision within days. An official spokesperson for Madrid’s provincial court then told Telegraph Sport that a decision would be announced by the end of March, another deadline which came and went.

If any appeals are upheld, it could potentially lift the lid on what many believe to be the one of the biggest suppressed doping scandals of all time. Rumours have long swirled that other sports could be dragged into Puerto.

So far only cyclists have really been targeted - a total of 56 riders were implicated, although only six served any kind of ban - but Fuentes has frequently boasted of working with athletes from other sports, including Champions League footballers, tennis players, athletes and boxers.

Whether anything can be done even if other sports and athletes are implicated is a moot point, however.

Wada’s revised 2015 statute of limitations allows for 10 years to punish athletes guilty of anti-doping rule violations, but that applies only to cases arising from Jan 1, 2015. For cases like Puerto, the old eight-year statute of limitations applies, which has long since elapsed. A Wada spokesperson told Telegraph Sport earlier this year that its lawyers were looking into possible ways around this.

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport