A monumental cloud hangs over Spanish sport

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02/13/2013| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com

A monumental cloud hangs over Spanish sport

A "monumental cloud" will hang over Spanish sport until all the athletes involved in the Operation Puerto case are identified, according to the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Around 200 blood bags used for illegal transfusions were uncovered in a police raid in 2006. That eventually led to the doctor at the center of the scandal, Eufemiano Fuentes, who currently on trial.

Fuentes admitted having clients from cycling, tennis, soccer and boxing, but has not revealed their identities.

WADA has been fighting in court for several years to get the athletes' anonymity protection lifted and the blood analyzed by doping experts.

"We want those bags to give to the appropriate bodies ... the Spanish law has prevented us," WADA President John Fahey said yesterday. "I hope this case ultimately decides in favor of releasing those bags so this monumental cloud that again is hanging over hundreds of athletes in Spain can at last be lifted with some transparency and those seen to be cheating are dealt with as they should be."

Fuentes is the key figure and one of five defendants in the case, which has implicated many of the world's top cyclists.

No riders are on trial because doping was not illegal in Spain at the time.

The trial is taking place with cycling already reeling from the Lance Armstrong scandal.

Armstrong confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey last month, but can only get his life ban reduced if he speaks with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) under oath.

USADA, which uncovered Armstrong's doping, has given him until Feb. 20 to agree to speak to its investigators.

"Having been told what would be necessary to redeem himself in any shape or form without there being any promises, his response to that was to go the show business route," Fahey said. "I wish (a confession to USADA) would achieve something, but there seems to be no indication now. ... I would be very surprised if he takes up the opportunity to make a significant contribution, which I have little doubt he can make, to cleaning up his sport."

Fahey wants Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, to name sources, suppliers and those complicit in his "giant fraud."

"It is then possible, if it is deemed to be significant and substantial assistance, for the life ban to be reduced to eight years," Fahey said and added "He was given that chance -- he hasn't taken it -- and I suspect he never will."

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