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Spanish doctor EUFEMIANO FUENTES, "the central figure in the Operation Puerto probe into a doping ring in cycling," got a one-year prison term on Tuesday as the judge ordered all evidence from the case to be destroyed, according to Mark Elkington of REUTERS. Fuentes -- "who is unlikely to be jailed because sentences under two years in Spain are usually suspended" -- was convicted for crimes against public health, barred from practicing sports medicine for four years and fined. Co-defendant IGNACIO LABARTA received a four-month jail term and was also barred from practice for four years, while MANOLO SAIZ, VICENTE BELDA and Fuentes' sister YOLANDA were all cleared. As Spain's current anti-doping legislation was not in force in 2006 when police seized anabolic steroids, transfusion equipment and blood bags in raids, the five "were tried only for violating public health regulations" (REUTERS, 4/30). BLOOMBERG'S Alex Duff reported Fuentes worked with LANCE ARMSTRONG'S former U.S. Postal Service teammate TYLER HAMILTON, among other elite riders. During the trial, Hamilton testified he paid Fuentes as much as €50,000 ($65,450) a year "to extract and later transfuse half-liter bags of blood during the season." Former Spanish rider JESUS MANZANO "blamed a transfusion of an incorrectly stored blood bag for keeling over" on a mountain climb at the '03 Tour de France. Judge PATRICIA SANTAMARIA rejected Manzano’s claim of €180,000 ($237,060) in damages (BLOOMBERG, 4/30).
JUDGE ORDERS EVIDENCE BE DESTROYED: The London TELEGRAPH'S Fiona Govan reported "in a move that will be deeply frustrating for anti-doping agencies," Santamaria denied a request to hand over evidence presented during the trial that might have led to further investigations and instead ordered blood bags and documents seized from Fuentes' clinic to be destroyed. The Spanish anti-doping agency said that "it would appeal against the destruction order to the country's Supreme Court." The blood bags will remain in storage in Barcelona until the appeal is heard. Anti-doping authorities, who were represented in court throughout the trial, had hoped to gain access to such evidence in the belief that it could help uncover wrongdoing by athletes in sports other than cycling. When he took the stand, Fuentes "confirmed that as well as cyclists he had clients in sports including football, boxing, tennis and athletics" (TELEGRAPH, 4/30).
'RIDICULOUS PENALTIES': EL CONFIDENCIAL'S Rubén Rodríguez opined "the biggest operation against doping in Spanish sport has ended how it began: with a lot of doubts and no harsh penalties." After seven years of waiting, investigations and interrogations, "the sanctions against those accused in the major network of prohibited substances in the national sport have left much to be desired." The public opinion "expected a penalty that would make an example, but what it got was far from it" (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 4/30).
SAIZ RELIEVED: MARCA reported Saiz could not hide his emotion after learning the sentence and confirming that he had been absolved of all charges. Saiz: "I'm thankful to my family, my friends and my lawyer. And thankful to a cyclist, CARLOS SASTRE." Sastre "supported Saiz in the most difficult moments." Saiz said, "Operation Puerto has ended and I hope nobody remembers me in any of this. I want to turn the page" (MARCA, 4/30).
Scottish Third Division Rangers captain LEE MCCULLOCH revealed that concerns over former club Owner CRAIG WHYTE's competency at running the club "had arisen just two months into his tenure," according to the SCOTSMAN. Writing in his autobiography, McCulloch "claims that Whyte held back" £400,000 due to players after they won the Scottish Premier League title in '11. Despite pleas from DAVID WEIR, STEVE DAVIS and ALLAN MCGREGOR, Whyte refused to hand over the bonus, which set alarm bells ringing for McCulloch. Writing in Simp-Lee The Best, McCulloch said, "It's hard to put an exact figure on it but I reckon there should have been around £400,000 to split between the players. We felt he treated us with contempt" (SCOTSMAN, 4/30). In Glasgow, Mark Guidi wrote "the noise hit a crescendo weeks later when newspapers were removed from the players' canteen and the coffee machine was empty." The Ibrox stars were, however, "still shocked when the club plunged into administration after the disgraced former owner didn't pay the club's PAYE and NI" to the tune of around £15M ($23M)" (SCOTLAND DAILY RECORD, 4/30).
German Football League (DFL) President DR. REINHARD RAUBALL has declared himself available for a further three-year term as president of the league association. The Borussia Dortmund president announced his decision at a meeting between the league association board and the DFL supervisory board on Monday (DFL). ... German Hockey League (DEL) club EHC Red Bull Munich, which "will become an official part of the Red Bull empire" on Wednesday, has fired its Commercial Head CLAUS GRÖBER (MERKUR ONLINE, 4/30). ... Premiership rugby side Worcester Warriors named CHARLES CAMERON CEO, effective May 13. Cameron has more than 20 years of experience in general management and finance roles, "the most recent being as Group Finance and Business Development of Oasis Healthcare whose successful sale was announced recently" (Warriors). ... Eurosport named JEAN-THIERRY AUGUSTIN its CEO. Augustin "was managing director, distribution, rights acquisition and development." He "has worked at Eurosport for 12 years." At the same time, PHILIPPE DENERY "has been named as the new chairman of the Eurosport Group." Denery "remains president of TF1 Group" (BROADBAND TV NEWS, 4/30).
COACHES: AC Milan President SILVIO BERLUSCONI has decided to replace coach MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI. Allegri, contracted at San Siro until June '14, "will reportedly be shown the door at the end of the season even if the Diavolo succeed in qualifying for the Champions League" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 4/30).
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NBA L.A. Lakers F PAU GASOL could represent Spain at the Eurobasket 2013 in Slovenia. After the London Games, Gasol said he would not compete for Spain the following summer. Gasol has five months before the '13-14 NBA season, and would have more than three months of rest before the start of practices at the beginning of August for the next Eurobasket, which will take place from Sept. 4-22. The fact that he is one of the top Spanish athletes sponsored by Nike "could also be an important factor in his decision" (MARCA, 4/30). ... MLB Cincinnati Reds player DONALD LUTZ "has become the first German in the majors after he made his debut on Monday." Lutz "pinch hitted in the seventh inning of the Reds' game against the St. Louis Cardinals" (SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, 4/30).
ON THE PITCH: FC Barcelona F PETE MICKEAL announced that he will put basketball aside for an undetermined period of time due to health reasons. Mickeal said that he will travel to his home country, the U.S., in two weeks' time to meet a specialist and focus on his blood problem before even considering playing professional basketball again (EUROLEAGUE, 4/30). ... AC Milan issued a statement on Tuesday denying quotes attributed to its striker MARIO BALOTELLI "where he was said to have offered his girlfriend as a Champions League incentive to Real Madrid" (XINHUA, 4/30). ... I-League Pune FC coach DERRICK PEREIRA "will be leaving the team at the end of the season" after four years. Pereira will return to his home state Goa to be with his family (PTI, 4/30). ... Former A-League Melbourne Victory attacker ROBBIE KRUSE "will sign for Champions League-bound Bayer Leverkusen." Kruse "will have a medical" Wednesday before his A$2M ($2.1) transfer (HERALD SUN, 4/30).
QUITE A BLESSING: POPE FRANCIS blessed the pink leader's jersey of the '13 edition of the Giro d'Italia Tuesday, which will kick off May 4 in Naples and ends May 26 in Brescia, Italy (CYCLING NEWS, 4/30). ... The Russian athletics federation has handed Olympic discus Silver Medalist DARYA PISHCHALNIKOVA "a 10-year doping ban after failing a drugs test for the second time" (REUTERS, 4/30). ... Australian sprinter MATT GOSS "will lead Orica-GreenEDGE at the Giro d'Italia" (EUROSPORT, 4/30).
London Guardian's JOSH HALLIDAY: "That tumbling sound you hear is Cristiano Ronaldo hurtling down the World's Best Player charts #smallgameplayer"
Reuters' KAROLOS GROHMANN: “#Fuentes judge rules evidence, incl. blood samples, not to b released for checks outside cycling. Case closed, I guess."
First German MLB player DONALD LUTZ: "I just wanna thank all my family, friends,coaches all over the world for everything they have done for me! This is a special day :) #happy"
Adidas' SIMON BREAKELL: "Oh ITV, everything that is wrong about your sports broadcasting, that was it. Jose on his future? Nah, lets go to a Money Supermarket advert"
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