Spain's doping doctor punished

Eufemiano Fuentes was convicted over his role in supplying blood transfusions to cyclists.

Story highlights

  • Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes handed one-year suspended prison sentence
  • Fuentes banned from medicine for four years by Madrid court
  • Judge rules that blood bags and samples will not be handed over
  • Anti-Drug Agencies could launch appeal Monday

Eufemiano Fuentes, the man alleged to have masterminded one of the world's largest sports doping operations, was found guilty of endangering public health by a court in Madrid Tuesday.

Fuentes was handed a $5,800 fine by Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria and banned from practicing sports medicine for four years on top of a one-year suspended jail term.

Ignacio Labarta, a former official with the Kelme team, was given a four-month prison sentence, while Manolo Saiz, Vicente Belde and Fuentes' sister, Yolanda, were all found not guilty.

But as Judge Santamaria announced that Fuentes, the man at the epicenter of the Operation Puerto doping scandal was guilty of supplying cyclists with illegal blood transfusions, she simultaneously extinguished the hopes of those seeking to discover the extent of his work.

Read: Can sport ever beat its drug cheats?

While doping was not illegal in Spain at the time of his arrest, Fuentes was charged with violating public health laws after police discovered around 200 frozen blood and plasma specimens in his offices in 2006.

Fuentes emerged largely unscathed at the conclusion of the 10-week trial, but it is the Judge's proclamation that all evidence, documents and blood bags, be destroyed instead of being handed over to the Spanish Anti-Doping agency, which has stunned opponents of drug abuse.

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The news will come as a blow to protesters and the Spanish government, which is currently in the process of trying to push through new anti-doping legislation in a bid to bring the country level with international standards.

Ana Munoz, the director general of the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency, had previously stated that her organization would push for the blood bags and specimens to be handed over at the conclusion of the trial.

An appeal is expected to be launched on Monday following the decision by the court, while Fuentes will begin life with a four-year ban from practicing as a doctor as well as starting to pay off a $5,880 fine.

Read: Armstrong immortalized in graffiti 'doping' artwork

Operation Puerto focused on doping within cycling and uncovered a whole host of cyclists which had been complicit in working with Fuentes.

Although the case was limited to Fuentes' work within the realms of cycling, he confirmed during his trial that he also boasted clients in other sports such as tennis, athletics, football and boxing.

During the trial, the court heard evidence from cyclists Jesus Manzano, U.S rider Tyler Hamilton and Germany's Jorg Jaksche, all of who gave details of their dealings with Fuentes.

It was revealed that blood transfusions were often carried out by people without medical expertise in hotel rooms.

According to evidence submitted to the court, banned substances such as EPO, HGH, testosterone, insulin and fertility drug Human Menopausal Gonadotropin were sometimes combined with the transfusions.

Read: Tennis serves up new measures in the fight against doping

In her summation of the case, the Judge said: "The extractions and transfusions were not practiced in accordance with the sanitary norms but in a clandestine manner."

Dr. Yorck Olaf Schumacher, the World Anti-Doping Agency's own medical expert, gave a frightening insight into just how dangerous blood transfusions could have been during his testimony in Spain, according to Cycling News website which is covered the trial.

"Extracting half a liter or a liter of blood presents a greater risk than extracting the usual amounts. That's up to 20% of the body's total, whereas you would only extract 1% for a blood analysis," he said.

"A hotel does not fulfill the conditions required for a transfusion," he added, referring to the alleged unsanitary conditions in which the blood doping took place. "A cool bag for picnics isn't the best thing for transporting blood."

Schumacher also claimed that those partaking in such practices may have exposed themselves to contracting diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.

Read: Armstrong admits using performance enhancing drugs

Cycling's image has been shattered by doping with Lance Armstrong the biggest name to have admitted to taking drugs.

Armstrong, who admitted his guilt last January following years of denials, revealed he used testosterone and human growth hormone, as well as EPO.

EPO, a hormone naturally produced by human kidneys to stimulate red blood cells, increases the amount of oxygen which can be transported to muscles to aid recovery and endurance.

The U.S. cyclist was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles following his announcement after refusing to cooperate with the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

He has since been banned for life after the organization accused him of running the "most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program" the sport had ever seen.