Spanish soccer league boss denies knowing of doping

AFP, MADRID

Wed, Feb 06, 2013 - Page 19

The head of the Spanish soccer league, Jose Luis Astiazaran, on Monday flatly denied allegations that top flight side Real Sociedad bought doping products under his presidency from 2001 to 2005.

“During my period as president of Real Sociedad, I never had knowledge or suspicion of illegal practices in relation to the medical services, which always worked with the utmost ethics and professionalism” Astiazaran said.

“If I had, I would have acted forcefully and with due diligence,” he said in a statement posted on the home page of the Professional Football League.

Astiazaran said Real Sociedad had always cooperated closely with the doping control authorities.

“There were never any incidents in the innumerable drugs tests carried out,” he said, describing the allegations as “absolutely inopportune and false.”

Astiazaran was reacting after Inaki Badiola, who was president of Real Sociedad during 2008, claimed in an interview with sports daily AS that the Basque club had illegally purchased doping products for six years before his arrival.

Badiola said he believed the doping products may have come from Eufemaniano Fuentes, a doctor at the center of a major blood doping scandal who is currently on trial in Madrid for giving transfusions to high-profile professional cyclists.

Badiola told the paper he had records of payments made for the products and an e-mail from one of the team doctors asking for permission to buy them. Badiola said he planned to check his files against documents related to the Fuentes case. Fuentes’ trial on Friday heard that one of his alleged clients was given the code name “R-Soc,” but the accused doctor gave no clue to what the code stood for, telling the court: “It might refer to a good wine.”

The doctor, his sister Yolanda and three other defendants from cycling teams are on trial for endangering public health, but not incitement to doping, which was not a crime in Spain at the time of their arrests in 2006.

The 57-year-old Fuentes was detained when police seized 200 bags of blood and plasma, and other evidence of performance-enhancing transfusions, revealing a huge doping network after a months-long investigation dubbed “Operation Puerto.”