Britain’s tennis star Andy Murray has waded into the row over Operacion Puerto by blasting a Spanish court’s order that the evidence be destroyed as “a joke”.
Murray called the order to destroy more than 200 blood bags “the biggest cover-up in sports history”.
It comes after Eufemiano Fuentes, a doctor specialising in sports medicine, today received a suspended one-year jail term for providing blood-doping services to cyclists.
Some 211 blood bags from 35 different people – believed to included a number of athletes from different sports – were seized as part of Operacion Puerto when Spanish police raided Fuente’s laboratory in 2006. However, the Madrid judge has rejected requests from anti-doping authorities and international sports federations to be allowed to analyse the blood bags and has ordered that they be destroyed.
That decision has been blasted by Murray, who said on Twitter: “operacion puerto case is beyond a joke… biggest cover up in sports history? why would court order blood bags to be destroyed? #coverup”.
UK Anti-Doping’s chief has also criticised the Spanish court’s order.
UKAD chief executive Andy Parkinson said: “We are disappointed in the decision by the Spanish authorities today.
“Dr Fuentes has admitted to having been involved in multiple prohibited doping activities, and linked with multiple unnamed athletes. It therefore cannot be right that these names will remain unknown and that no immediate action can be taken by the anti-doping community to protect our clean athletes.”
Anti-doping organisations who had hoped to identify other drugs cheats, and sources in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are hopeful that the Spanish anti-doping body will be able to appeal against the decision of the Madrid court.
Fuentes has also been banned from working as a doctor in sports medicine for four years at the end of the Operacion Puerto trial in Madrid.
The court also sentenced former cycling team official Ignacio Labarta to four months in jail, and acquitted three others on trial.
Fuentes had been accused of running one of the biggest doping rings in sport.
Although the investigation focused on cycling, WADA and the Spanish anti-doping agency had asked for access to the evidence to see if athletes from other sports were involved.
During his trial, Fuentes said that as well as cyclists, he had worked with runners, footballers and boxers, though he did not admit to facilitating doping.
WADA on Tuesday evening expressed its disappointment to dispose of the evidence and is currently weighing up whether to appeal the decision.
A statement on its website on Tuesday night said: “The decision to order the destruction of all the blood bags is particularly disappointing and unsatisfactory for WADA, and the whole anti-doping community.
“Access to this evidence motivated WADA’s involvement in this case. This would ensure appropriate sports sanction processes against the cheats who used Dr Fuentes’ services. The Court did consider that his conduct was a crime against public health.
“WADA is currently fully reviewing the decision and any possible appeal or other action with its Spanish legal advisors, and the Spanish National Anti-Doping Organisation (AEA).
“The deadline to appeal the case is 17 May.
“WADA will not make any further comment about this case until that date.”