Thu, May 02, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Doping case doctor given one-year jail sentence in Spain

AFP and Reuters, MADRID and BARCELONA

A Spanish court on Tuesday sentenced a doctor who performed blood transfusions on top cyclists to a year in prison for endangering public health in a case keenly watched due to claims that the practice extended to other sports.

Spanish Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria said that Eufamenio Fuentes, 57, offered the blood doping treatments for money, posing a “significant risk to the health” of those receiving the blood.

“The extractions and transfusions were not practiced in accordance with the sanitary norms, but in a clandestine manner,” she added in the ruling after the two-month trial in Madrid.

As such, his actions contravened the Spanish criminal code on endangering of public health, the judge said.

Under Spanish law, Fuentes will not have to go to jail for a sentence of less than two years since he has no previous convictions. Fuentes was given a fine of about 4,500 euros (US$5,880), which he must pay at the rate of 15 euros a day for 10 months and was also banned from practicing as a sports doctor for four years.

Santamaria resisted pressure during the trial to provide the names of athletes implicated in the scandal.

She also refused to give the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) or any other anti-doping authority access to the 211 blood bags seized in the raids.

Instead, she ordered the bags to be destroyed once any appeals have been settled, damaging hopes that the case would unmask other athletes involved in illegal doping, prompting widespread condemnation.

The Spanish Anti-Doping Agency has said it will appeal the ruling to destroy the evidence and WADA director-general David Howman said in a statement that his agency would follow suit.

The ruling stated that Fuentes had extracted blood from his clients and later transfused the blood back into them “with the exclusive intention of artificially elevating the physical performance of the cyclist.”

The transfusions were sometimes combined with banned substances such as testosterone.

Witnesses in the case included two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, who served a two-year ban for a doping violation, and Lance Armstrong’s former US Postal Service teammate Tyler Hamilton.

Six of the 58 people said to have been Fuentes’ clients have subsequently been sanctioned, including German rider Jan Ullrich.

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