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New Spanish sports minister pressures for action on Operación Puerto

The slow hand of justice in Spain seems finally to be moving. Nearly six years after police uncovered the Operación Puerto doping ring, officials are pressing for jail time for the leading protagonists.

After six years of procrastination, movement seems to be coming from Spain’s new sports minister, Albert Soler, who is calling for jail time of up to two and a half years for several players in the OP scandal. Soler, who took over this month for out-going minister Jaime Lissavetzky, said he is pushing for maximum sentences against the alleged ringleader’s in Spain’s biggest doping scandal.

Soler announced Friday that Spain’s Consejo Superior de Deportes (CSD), working with federal prosecutors, will press for jail terms of up to two and a half year for Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, his sister and also doctor, Yolanda Fuentes, and sport directors Manolo Saiz, Vicente Belda and Jose Ignacio Labarta. They’re also calling for two years of forced inactivity in their respective professions. Officials also want to press for a three-year jail term for hematologist Jose Luis Merino Batres, who was allegedly the right-hand man of Fuentes in the international doping ring that included scores of cyclists and allegedly other sport figures.

The gesture marks an important change in tone from the Lissavetzky, who never pressed for charges in the Puerto case. Lissavetzky is now running for the mayor of Madrid.

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