'Operation Puerto' Mastermind Will Not Be Forced To Name Athletes Involved In Doping
The judge in the case ruled Wednesday that Spanish Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, on trial for allegedly masterminding a doping ring in cycling, "will not be obliged to identify any of the clients whose frozen blood was found in bags seized by police," according to Iain Rogers of REUTERS. Fuentes, who denies involvement in doping, said that he could "identify to whom the blood in the numbered bags belonged." Judge Julia Santamaria said that she "would not prevent him from revealing the names but would not force him to do so." She added that forcing him to name individuals "would infringe the rights of those implicated." Fuentes and four other defendants, including his sister Yolanda, appeared in court "almost seven years after anabolic steroids, transfusion equipment and blood bags were seized" as part of an investigation code-named "Operation Puerto." The proceedings have attracted int'l scrutiny because anti-doping authorities, along with the Italian Olympic Committee and several sporting organizations, are taking part in the trial, are "hopeful it will finally lead to evidence of wrongdoing by athletes in other sports being made available." A World Anti-Doping Agency request for access to the blood bags has been "repeatedly denied by the Spanish authorities," and the body awaits the judge's ruling on their latest petition made this week (REUTERS, 1/30).