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Sunday 30, Jun 2013

  Tour de France Winner Admits To Doping

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Tour de France Winner Admits To Doping

Jan Ullrich, the 1997 Tour de France winner, during an interview with German weekly Focus has admitted for the first time that he received blood doping treatment from Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

In the past, Ullrich had previously acknowledged having unspecified “contact” with Fuentes and said he couldn’t remember how many times he had received treatment from Fuentes. The cyclist from Germany said that while he had made bad decisions during his career, he did not harm or defraud anyone and added that almost everyone took performance-enhancing substances then. Ullrich added that for him fraud starts when he gains an advantage and that wasn’t the case and he wanted to ensure equality of opportunities. The rider added that he only wants to look forward, and never again backward.

The 39-year-old Ullrich, in the interview, said he had access to treatment from Fuentes but insisted using no other substance than his own blood. The doctor was jailed for a year by a Spanish court in April 2013 for performing blood transfusions on top cyclists. The 1997 Tour de France winner said nearly everyone at that time was using doping substances and he used nothing that the others were not using. Ulrich now wants to put his doping past behind him, but Germany’s Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has already said it will investigate. The anti-doping agency said it is important that Ulrich not only admits his crime, but also mentions the names of other participants in the background for the sport to be clean.

Thomas Bach, president of the German Olympic Federation, remarked Jan Ullrich had his opportunity a few years ago or a truly credible confession and he missed his chance and now, as far as I am concerned, he’s trying to work with some rhetorical maneuvers, which helps neither him nor the sport of cycling. Rudolf Scharping, president of the German Cycling Federation, said the confession by Ulrich should have come five years ago and added that it is far too late to try and clean things up and he could have helped the sport of cycling if he had laid everything out on the table much earlier.

The German cyclist’s confession comes six months after US cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted doping throughout his career and was banned for life, as well as being stripped of his seven Tour titles. The results of Jan Ullrich have also been erased from the history books after finishing second to Lance Armstrong three times in the Tour. In February 2012, Jan Ullrich was found guilty of a doping offense by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It was ruled that Ullrich was “fully engaged” in the doping program of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, exposed in the Operation Puerto probe. Ullrich was stripped by the court of his third-place finish at the 2005 Tour and after a while, Ullrich retired in 2007. The cyclist was retroactively banned in August 2012 and all of his results since May 2005 were erased.

The cyclist received support from an unexpected quarter with Lance Armstrong tweeting, “Jan Ullrich? Warm hearted. Amazing athlete. Great competitor. Loved toeing the line with you my friend.”

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Sunday 09, Jun 2013

  Puerto Judge’s Ruling Condemned By Cyclists

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>Puerto Judge’s Ruling Condemned By Cyclists

The decision of the court in the infamous Operation Puerto trial has been criticized by cyclists and team directors at the Giro d’Italia. The Judge Julia Santamaria ordered, to the surprise of the World Anti-Doping Agency and many others, destruction of the blood bags seized in the Operation Puerto doping case.

This destruction of evidence pertains to more than 200 bags of blood and other evidence gathered in police raids involving Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes in 2006. It was despite the doctor testifying that he had clients from other sports, including soccer, tennis, boxing, and track. In the trial, more than 50 cyclists were implicated in the Puerto case and several were identified by name as having worked with the tainted doctor.

Most riders and team directors expressed disappointment with the ruling and said the ruling undermines the efforts to catch sport cheats and uncover the extent of one of the biggest drug scandals in European sports. Taylor Phinney, an American rider with the BMC squad who won the time trial that opened last year’s Giro, remarked he does not agree with the decision to destroy all the evidence and it doesn’t quite make sense to me.

British rider David Millar who returned from a doping ban to become an outspoken critic of banned drugs is hopeful that the ruling gets overturned on appeal. Anti-doping organizations have until May 17 to make an appeal. Millar said before the opening stage of the Giro that he knows the Spanish anti-doping agency are firmly against (destroying the evidence) and he knows WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) are firmly against that. Stefano Zanatta, the team director for Ivan Basso’s Cannondale squad, remarked unfortunately institutions often don’t handle things the same way in every country.

Fuentes was found guilty of endangering public health by the Madrid court and the doctor was handed a suspended jail sentence of one year and was barred from medical practice in sports for four years and ordered to pay a $6,000 fine. The judge cited privacy laws of Spain in her decision not to turn over the evidence to anti-doping authorities. This ruling, unless overturned on an appeal, would not allow officials from identifying the doctor’s blood-doping clients and pursuing disciplinary cases against them.

In other developments, Britain’s tennis star Andy Murray says the decision of the Spanish court to allow for the destruction of more than 200 blood bags in the Operation Puerto doping case is one big cover-up. Tennis star Rafael Nadal also expressed his disappointment with the decision and said the decision casts a dark cloud over Spanish athletes in particular and remarked the only ones who have benefited from this resolution are those who have cheated and it seems unfair that in a case as serious and as damaging to sport as this we’re talking about Spain. Nadal added to not give names looks like a big mistake to me and those who cheated deserve the contempt from all other athletes, who should make them feel ashamed before society. After the decision, Ana Munoz, the head of Spain’s anti-doping agency, announced that she would appeal the decision to destroy the evidence.

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Friday 17, May 2013

  Olympic Gold Medalist Wants Madrid Olympic Bid To Be Thwarted

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Olympic Gold Medalist Wants Madrid Olympic Bid To Be Thwarted

Olympic cycling gold medalist Nicole Cooke wants International Olympic Committee members from Britain to vote against Madrid’s 2020 Games bid following Spain’s doping scandal.

This was after a Spanish court ordered 211 blood bags to be destroyed without analysis even though it convicted Dr Eufemiano Fuentes of giving blood transfusions to cyclists.

Cooke said it is time to stand up for every one of those unknown victims of those bags of blood, every one of those robbed by the cheats. The Welsh cyclist accused dopers of bringing out the “darkest days” of the sport. She called on the British Olympic Association’s IOC members to ensure a nation that allows its legal system to act in this manner can have no part in hosting any future Olympic Games. She went on to add that we now need our representatives to send the most clear message to the Spanish authorities and it is a great privilege to host an Olympic Games.

Cooke said Madrid seeks nomination for the 2020 Games and we have our IOC representatives, who have a vote to cast and they can, today, offer tangible sanction while we athletes can do little but comment and added that Sir Craig Reedie, Sir Philip Craven, Adam Pengilly, make your views public and crystal clear as this is not an area for inaction or even for ‘behind-closed-doors’ persuasions and urged them not to be quiet on this issue.

Cooke added nothing can make good that stolen by the criminals from their innocent victims. However, by standing idly by, the authorities, both in Spain and even here in the UK, make the pain so much more unbearable and said she knows that every child in my village wanted me to do my best. Undoubtedly every single one wanted me to win, but even more, every little boy and little girl would have preferred me to lose rather than win via some weird hormone replacement therapy and Frankenstein blood recipe, said the Olympic cycling gold medalist.

In another development, British distance runner Paula Radcliffe has criticized the decision of the Spanish court to destroy evidence seized in police raids on Eufemiano Fuentes and said it was “vital” the bags of blood were preserved, adding that Spain had been given a chance to show it backed the fight against drugs. The Spanish anti-doping agency is only just bringing into line its national legislation with the rest of the world to make it a criminal offence to take part in doping and to supply doping, and that was probably done to support the bid to host the Olympics in 2020, she said. The 39-year-old is a long-standing opponent of doping, having staged a placard protest against “EPO cheats” at the World Athletics Championship in 2001 and pointed out that the court’s decision comes at a time when progress is being made in the fight against the use of drugs in sport. She suggested the decision could damage Spanish capital Madrid’s bid for the 2020 Olympic and the head of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission, Arne Ljungqvist, has also spoken out against the court’s order.

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Thursday 16, May 2013

  Nadal Criticizes Ruling To Destroy Doping Evidence

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Nadal Criticizes Ruling To Destroy Doping Evidence

Rafael Nadal of Spain has criticized the decision to destroy evidence in the doping scandal of his country.

Dr Eufemiano Fuentes was recently convicted for his role in supplying blood transfusions to cyclists but a Spanish court ordered 211 blood bags to be destroyed without analysis. The doctor received a suspended sentence of one year for endangering public health and has claimed that he has worked with tennis players as well as runners, footballers, and boxers.

Nadal said the ruling was not positive for anyone and the only ones that benefited were those who cheated and the ones that are hurt are Spanish athletes and sports in general. The former world number one, who has won 11 grand slams, also remarked the image this transmits to the world isn’t the one we were hoping for and said he thinks it is a mistake that the names (of Fuentes’ clients) are not known, but that is what happened. Nadal also remarked that we will keep working so that sports stay clean and this doesn’t happen again in the future.

Britain’s Andy Murray had had already questioned the outcome of the case and tweeted, “Why would court order blood bags to be destroyed? #coverup.”

Murray criticized Spanish officials for their handling of the Operation Puerto trial, asking if they could be guilty of the “biggest cover-up in sports history”. “Case is beyond a joke,” tweeted Murray. He said it was essential that anyone who was involved should be named and remarked if one in 100 is doping then, in my eyes, that isn’t a clean sport and we need to do everything we can to ensure we have everyone that’s competing at the highest level and below is clean. He went on to add that he knows what goes in his body and he knows from his side that he is clean, so that’s all he can comment on.

Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria denied access to anti-doping authorities and international sports bodies that wanted to analyze the bags to see whether they implicate athletes in sports other than cycling; Santamaria ordered that the bags be destroyed.

The International Tennis Federation announced in March this year that it was to implement an Athlete Biological Passport program under which biological data will be collected and compared to spot discrepancies over time that suggest possible doping. This announcement came in the wake of questions raised by some of the sport’s top players about existing drug-testing procedures that focused mainly on urine tests.

A statement issued by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), on the Fuentes case, said it hopes this is not the end of the matter and it reads that access to this evidence motivated WADA’s involvement in this case and this would ensure appropriate sports sanction processes against the cheats who used Dr Fuentes’ services. The statement reads the court did consider that his conduct was a crime against public health. Dick Pound, the former head of WADA, added that it’s embarrassing for Spain and everybody knows we will be able to uncover quite a bit more doping if the examples are made available.

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Thursday 09, May 2013

  Blood Bags To Be Destroyed In Doping Case

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Blood Bags To Be Destroyed In Doping Case

The destruction of more than 200 blood bags seized in a raid of a major European doping ring that catered to elite athletes was ordered by a Spanish judge.

The decision by the judge in the trial of Eufemiano Fuentes is a huge setback for anti-doping agencies that have been trying hard to uncover possibly one of the biggest doping scandals in history.

In her ruling, Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria said the bags of blood, plasma and red blood cells, along with accompanying evidence that were gathered in a 2006 raid of the office of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes could not be released to anti-doping authorities because of the privacy laws of Spain.

Anti-doping agencies and sports federations, including the World Anti-Doping Agency and Spain’s anti-doping agency (AEA) were making efforts to get the blood bags so they could try to identify athletes who had been Fuentes’s clients and pursue doping cases against them. Till now, only cyclists have been identified as working with Fuentes in the doping case called Operation Puerto though the disgraced doctor himself testified that his clients also included athletes in tennis, soccer, boxing, and track and field.

Dick Pound, the former chief of the World Anti-Doping Agency, remarked the decision of the judge to keep the evidence from anti-doping authorities “seriously undermines the credibility of sport” and went on to add that Spain risks becoming a haven for dopers, unless it takes a harder line regarding athletes who use drugs to cheat. Pound added that this performance with the Fuentes case is typical of what we’ve seen with Spain and we have been asking them for years about the evidence but there was no cooperation at all from them and the courts were almost vigorous in making sure that none of the information saw the light of day. He added that this verdict could very well hurt Madrid’s bid for the 2020 Olympics.

Fuentes was recently convicted of endangering public health for his role in doping athletes by helping them transfuse their own blood and supplying them with performance enhancing drugs. A one-year suspended sentence and a ban of four ban was imposed on Fuentes from practicing medicine and fined $6,000 though he was not charged with breaking doping laws because, at the outset of the case, doping was not illegal in Spain.

Ana Munoz, the head of Spain’s anti-doping agency, said the agency was likely to appeal against decision of the judge to withhold the evidence. Munoz added that we don’t consider this the end of the process and will now use all resources at our disposal to investigate further.

In a statement, WADA said access to this evidence motivated WADA’s involvement in this case and 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 Organization (AEA).

UK Anti-Doping chief executive Andy Parkinson also expressed his sadness with the verdict and said it is massively disappointing because everything WADA has been about for the last few years is sharing information and making sure the global fight is fought at global level and what we’ve got here is a bunch of information that may or may not implicate people and we can’t get our hands on it and that’s really disappointing for clean athletes.

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Saturday 23, Mar 2013

  German Cyclist Casts Doubt On Fuentes Defense In Trial

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German Cyclist Casts Doubt On Fuentes Defense In Trial

The Operation Puerto blood doping trial was recently told by German cyclist Jörg Jaksche that he the treatment he received from Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes was designed to beat doping controls and had nothing to do with genuine health issues. The evidence of Jaksche on the first day of testimony from professional riders before the judge in Madrid may have a bearing on whether the Spanish court decides that the disgraced doctor who denies doping and other defendants violated public health laws.

The cyclist from Germany was the first cyclist to admit blood doping in connection with the Puerto investigation that made it to the courtroom almost after seven years after Spanish police seized anabolic steroids, transfusion equipment, and blood bags in 2006. On June 2007, the cyclist said he had used banned drugs over a period of 10 years and confirmed that he was a client of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes from 2005 and said going to see the doctor was like “going for an oil change”. The rider said Fuentes had supplied him with banned drugs including the booster erythropoietin (EPO) and performed blood transfusions. Jaksche also told the court that Fuentes had also given him an unidentified “white powder” to contaminate urine samples.

The accused doctor, along with four other defendants including his sister Yolanda, is being tried for violating health laws as the Spain’s current anti-doping legislation was not in force in 2006 when the police raids took place. The prosecutor has asked for jail sentences of two years.

Last month, Fuentes remarked he had clients in sports including soccer, tennis, athletics, and boxing and agreed to reveal his client list if the same is sought by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Spanish anti-doping authorities. The judge Julia Santamaria said she would not prevent Fuentes from doing so but would also not oblige him to do so, and said it would infringe the rights of those implicated.

In another development, Italian rider Ivan Basso told the court he had blood extracted on three occasions at the clinic of another doctor implicated in the Operation Puerto case but never had any reinjected. Tyler Hamilton, a long-time associate of Lance Armstrong, told the court that he paid tens of thousands of dollars a year for doping to the doctor at the heart of the Operation Puerto scandal. The rider said he used blood doping about 15 times and also bought the blood booster EPO, testosterone, growth hormone and insulin from Eufemiano Fuentes. He said he paid $33,000 to $40,000 for the services in 2002 and 2003. The former rider for the U.S. Postal and CSC teams who was stripped of his gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics last year after confessing to doping said he had first met the Spanish doctor in Spain at a highway rest area between Barcelona and Valencia “to fix up blood transfusions” and “to plan for the future.” He named one-time Tour de France and Giro d’Italia winner “Bjarne Riis, general manager of team CSC, when asked who put him in contact with Fuentes.

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Thursday 21, Mar 2013

  Spanish Doping Doctor May Shame Football And Other Sports

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Spanish Doping Doctor May Shame Football And Other Sports

The doctor at the center of the massive Operation Puerto blood doping trial has told the court that he would name the clients whose blood has been seized.

Eufemiano Fuentes, who is on trial for allegedly running a doping network in cycling and ran one of sport’s largest blood-doping rings, threatened to name all his former clients. The Spanish doctor made the offer through reporters during Spain’s Operation Puerto trial. Fuentes remarked that if the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Spanish drugs authorities consider that he can be useful and sought his help, he would be willing. He added that this would not be done for a reduced sentence but rather so there is mutual collaboration and also remarked they can have his client list if they want. Till now, only 54 cyclists, including Alberto Contador, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, and Alejandro Valverde, have been personally implicated in the scandal.

Fuentes has admitted to having worked with people in football, tennis, boxing, and athletics and said cycling only comprised 30 percent of his work. This change of heart came as the world governing body of cycling urged the judge to show no leniency. The doctor faces up to two-and-a-half years in jail on public health charges and the five defendants on trial, including the Spanish doctor’s sister, Yolanda, will have one final opportunity to address the court on April 2 before sentencing commences. The defendants have been appearing in court since late January, almost seven years after police seized anabolic steroids, transfusion equipment and blood bags as part of an investigation code-named “Operation Puerto”.

The trial proceedings have attracted international scrutiny and attention as anti-doping authorities are hopeful that it will finally lead to evidence of wrongdoing by athletes in sports other than cycling. Previously, a request by WADA for access to the blood bags was repeatedly denied by the Spanish authorities and the World Anti-Doping Agency awaits the ruling of the judge on their latest petition. Since the current anti-doping legislation of Spain was not in force in 2006 when the police raids took place, the defendants are tried for violating public health regulations with the prosecutor asking for jail sentences of two years.

In the past, German cyclist Joerg Jaksche told the Operation Puerto trial that the treatment he received from the Spanish doctor was designed to beat doping controls and had nothing to do with genuine health issues. Italian rider Ivan Basso, a double Giro d’Italia champion, told the court that he had blood extracted on three occasions at the clinic of another doctor implicated in the case but never had any reinjected. Spanish cyclist Angel Vicioso told the judge he had only met with Eufemiano Fuentes for sporadic medical consultations. Former cyclist Marcos Serrano contradicted testimony from former team director Manolo Saiz, one of the five defendants along with Fuentes, by saying he never personally sought out medical treatment from the disgraced Spanish doctor. Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador who was originally scheduled to appear as a witness was told he would not be required to appear in court after Manolo Saiz’s attorney renounced the witness statement he had requested from the cyclist.

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Thursday 21, Feb 2013

  Disgraced Former US Cyclist Paid $40,000 A Year For Doping

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Disgraced Former US Cyclist Paid $40,000 A Year For Doping

Tyler Hamilton told a Spanish court on Tuesday that he paid tens of thousands of euros (dollars) a year to Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes and bought the blood booster EPO, testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin off Fuentes.

The disgraced cyclist told the court that he used blood doping some 15 times and was associated with the doctor at the heart of the Operation Puerto scandal for blood doping and other drug supply services to boost his performance in competitions.

Fuentes, his sister and fellow doctor, Yolanda, Manolo Saiz, a former ONCE and Liberty Seguros team sports director, and Vicente Belda and Ignacio Labarta, both associated with the former Kelme team, are on trial in a Madrid court for endangering public health.

The former teammate of banned cyclist Lance Armstrong, Hamilton said he paid between 25,000 and 30,000 for the services in 2002 and 2003. Hamilton also said he agreed to pay 50,000 ($US67,000) for 2004, but was not able to complete the treatment as he tested positive for receiving someone else’s blood in September 2004. The cyclist was stripped of his gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics last year after confessing to doping.

Meanwhile, the judge announced that Alberto Contador, the two-time winner of Tour de France and one of 50 cyclists implicated in the Puerto investigation, would not be required to appear in court. The attorney for defendant Saiz, Ignacio Arroyo, said at the end of hearing on Tuesday that he renounced the witness statement he had requested from Contador. The judge then ruled that the rider’s presence would no longer be necessary because Arroyo had been the only trial participant to request testimony from Contador.

A former professional rider for the US Postal and CSC team, Tyler Hamilton, among others, said he first met the Spanish doctor at a rest area “on the highway between Barcelona and Valencia” in Spain “to fix up blood transfusions” and “to plan for the future.”

Hamilton told the court the worst reaction he had was in 2004 when he had a reinfusion during the Tour de France and as far as he could tell the blood hadn’t been stored properly and said he knew something was not working out as it should when he went to the bathroom 35-40 minutes later and found his urine was black. On 11 September, 2004, Hamilton while riding in Spain’s Vuelta, tested positive for “mixed blood cell population,” or receiving someone else’s blood. The cyclist, under cross-examination, also remarked that he had heard that another rider in his team, Santiago Perez, had also tested positive for the same reason. Tyler Hamilton said he knew Perez and other riders also used the blood doping services of Fuentes as they had flown together from Lyon in France to Madrid, during the Dauphine Libere race, to get infused. Hamilton, when asked who had put him in contact with Fuentes, said that one-time Tour de France and Giro d’Italia winner “Bjarne Riis, general manager of team CSC, put me in touch with him.”

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Wednesday 20, Feb 2013

  Tyler Hamilton Points Finger At Fuentes In Operation Puerto Trial

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Tyler Hamilton Points Finger At Fuentes In Operation Puerto Trial

On Tuesday, American cyclist Tyler Hamilton described in detail how Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes who is at the center of the Operation Puerto trial oversaw his program of blood doping and supplied him with banned substances including Erythropoietin (EPO).

The former teammate and friend of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, Hamilton was speaking through an interpreter by video link from the Spanish embassy in Washington and spoke for approximately three hours about his time as a patient of the Spanish doctor between 2002-04 when the rider paid him as much as 110,000 euros ($146,900) for his services. The 41-year-old Hamilton came clean about his doping past in an award-winning book ‘The Secret Race’, and revealed he met Eufemiano Fuentes at a clinic or in apartments in Madrid and Monaco and in “many, many hotel rooms” and the pair spoke and sent text messages using “secret phones”.

While the Spanish doctor was watching him on a large-screen television, Hamilton told the court that his blood transfusion under the direction of the doctor was in March 2002 and he said he had met him “probably 15 times”, each time having blood extracted or reinjected. The relationship between Tyler Hamilton and Eufemiano Fuentes ended in September 2004 when traces of someone else’s blood were found in one of the samples of the cyclist and he was suspended for a period of two years.

In August 2012, Hamilton was stripped of the time-trial gold medal he won at the 2004 Athens Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Hamilton also told the court the Spanish doctor have him a calendar with a schedule of races and a schedule of when to take what performance enhancing drugs and said Fuentes gave him EPO if he remembers correctly. Hamilton, wearing a light gray suit, white shirt, and striped tie, said he provided me with EPO, growth hormone, insulin, and testosterone and the cyclist added that his greatest fear was something like the Operation Puerto trial happening.

The Spanish doctor and four other defendants, including his sister Yolanda, are making an appearance in the court almost seven years after anabolic steroids, transfusion equipment, and numbered blood bags were seized by police as part of the Puerto investigation. Fuentes has revealed that he had clients in sports including soccer, tennis, athletics, and boxing. The doctor and other accused are being tried for violating public health regulations and the prosecutor has asked for prison terms of two years as the present anti-doping legislation of Spain was not in force in 2006 when the police raids took place. Hamilton was questioned about whether he had been warned of the possible risks from blood doping and if he had any negative reaction to the transfusions or drugs. The cyclist said during the Tour de France in July of 2004, he had a transfusion that gave him a bad fever and his urine was black when he went to the bathroom. When asked if he had anything more to say, Tyler Hamilton rendered an apology for breaking the rules. The trial is set to end on March 22.

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