Suspended sentence for Spanish doctor

Eufemiano Fuentes - the doctor at heart of Operation Puerto trial - is handed a one-year suspended jail sentence.

    Suspended sentence for Spanish doctor
    Judges convicted Eufemiano Fuentes over his role in supplying blood transfusions to cyclists [EPA]

    The Spanish doctor at the heart of the Operation Puerto doping case was found guilty of endangering public health on Tuesday and given a one-year suspended jail sentence.

    Eufemiano Fuentes was also barred from medical practice in sports for four years and ordered to pay a fine of $6,000.

    Judge Julia Santamaria read out the verdicts seven years after police raided Fuentes' Madrid clinics and seized more than 100 blood bags in one of cycling's biggest doping scandals.

    The judge also ruled that the blood bags be destroyed, ruling out any possible investigations by the World Anti-Doping Agency and Spain's national anti-doping body.

    A key part of the trial, the bags contained red blood cells and plasma that had been separated by Fuentes from his patients through the use of sophisticated centrifuges.

    According to the judge, Fuentes' practices were aimed purely at improving athletes' performances, but they also posed a threat to their health.

    The court also sentenced former cycling team official Ignacio Labarta to four months in jail. It acquitted the other three people on trial: Yolanda Fuentes, Manuel Saiz and Vicente Belda.

    Defendants who receive sentences of less than two years in Spain generally do not go to jail unless they have previous convictions.

    Fuentes has 10 days to appeal. 

    Trail runs cold

    WADA and Ana Munoz, head of Spain's new anti-doping agency, had requested access to the evidence contained in the blood bags for possible testing using the latest scientific techniques.
     
    Although the bags will not be destroyed until appeals are heard, their eventual destruction puts an end to any further cases that could have been instigated by WADA or Munoz.

    Operation Puerto implicated more than 50 cyclists, only a few of whom have been sanctioned for cheating, and raised suspicions that the bags could have contained evidence linking other top athletes who used Fuentes' services.

    Fuentes testified during the trial that he had clients from other sports, including football, tennis, boxing and athletics, but their names were never revealed.

    No cyclists were on trial in the Puerto case because doping was not an offence in 2006 when police raided Fuentes' clinics and laboratories and seized evidence.

    Spain has since passed anti-doping legislation, with an even stricter anti-doping bill to be voted on by parliament this summer.

    Madrid are bidding for the 2020 Olympics and Munoz has said she is determined to pursue a much harder line on sports cheats.

    SOURCE: AP


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