Blood-Doping Doctor Should Be Put In Jail, Says Prosecutor

Spanish prosecutors have called for a jail term of two years for a doctor at the center of a high-profile blood doping racket in professional cycling as they wound up their case.

Eufemiano Fuentes should be imprisoned as he was the “soul and ideologist” of a “fraudulent and punishable” network that was intended to improve sports performance in lieu of money, public prosecutor Rosa Calero said. The doctor and four co-accused are presently on trial and accused of endangering public health by performing blood transfusions on a number of high-profile cyclists. The five are however not facing incitement to doping charges that was not a crime in the country at the time of their arrests in 2006 as part of Spain’s Operation Puerto police probe.

However, Calero remarked the criminal code of Spain still provided for imprisonment. She added the article states that those who supply deteriorated or out-of-date medicines, or those that do not comply with the technical requirement of their composition, stability or efficiency, or substitute a few medicines for others, put in danger the life or health of those people to whom the medicine is supplied. Calero also added that the method followed by Fuentes of carrying blood bags in backpacks to hotels surrounded by cold drinks to keep them at the required temperature “neglected hygienic standards and generated a clear risk to the health” of the recipients.

Lucia Pedreno, another lawyer representing the state, laid out evidence against the other four accused and their roles in the operations of Fuentes. Manolo Saiz and Vicente Belda in their roles as team directors of the Liberty Seguros and Kelme cycling teams respectively were key collaborators in introducing Fuentes to clients who were part of their teams, said Pedreno.

The cycling clients of Fuentes are believed to include at least one former teammate of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and dozens of other cyclists who raced against him. Fuentes disclosed during the trial that he treated not just cyclists, but also players from different sports like soccer and boxing. The star witness of prosecutors is Jesus Manzano, a former cyclist who collapsed during the 2003 Tour de France after a treatment from Fuentes. Manzano testified in the court that Fuentes injected him with 50 milliliters of Oxyglobin, a drug made for dogs, and added that the doctor hid steroids in empty wine bottles and handed out mysterious pills.

Meanwhile, the sport’s ruling body’s president Pat Mcquaid said the cycling community has moved over from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and UCI’s doping process has now been properly equipped to counter the doping challenge. McQuaid added the issue would not be a deterrent for young cyclists to come into cycling and they should view icons like Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins who can be their role models. He also remarked that the now-banned cyclist doped 10 to 15 years back and he used products that were undetectable at that time. Now, the UCI has come up with much stronger and much sophisticated process of halting doping such as biological passport.

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