The definitive legal verdict on Operación Puerto has decreed that the 211 blood bags at the centre of the 2006 anti-doping probe will not be destroyed, as had previously been ordered in an April 2013 court ruling, but also that Eufemiano Fuentes has been cleared of all charges.
The 211 blood bags, currently stored in an anti-doping lab in Barcelona, can therefore now be delivered to the relevant authorities – in the verdict the UCI, the Spanish Cycling Federation [RFEC], WADA and Italian National Olympic Committee [CONI] are all named as recipients – for analysis and for the possible identification of their owners. The UCI, RFEC, WADA and CONI all lodged appeals against the previous court decree, which had ordered the bags be destroyed.
Spanish daily El País reports that it’s believed the 211 seized bags belong to a total of 23 cyclists and 12 athletes, with many owning more than one bag.
Initially given a one-year suspended prison sentence by a lower court in 2013, Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, the head of the Madrid-based doping ring which handled the blood transfusions, has been cleared of all charges against public health.
According to reports, the full final court verdict argues that blood transfusions are not considered to constitute a public health offence, given that it finds that blood is not in itself a medicine.
At the time of the anti-doping probe, in May 2006, an offence against public health was the only possible charge at the time against the former team doctor and his associates given that there was no specific anti-doping law in Spain – something which changed months later.
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