Fuentes found guilty at Puerto trial, receives one-year jail term
The official Operación Puerto verdict is in: Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes and former Kelme trainer Ignacio Labarta have been declared guilty of endangering public health.
Three others, Yolanda Fuentes, also a doctor, former Liberty Seguros manager Manolo Saiz, and former Kelme director Vicente Belda have been acquitted.
Fuentes was handed a one-year sentence, while Labarta was given a four-month sentence. Typically in Spain, first-time offenders rarely go to jail, and any sentence of two years or less usually means automatic parole. Longer sentences, however, could have meant a one-way ticket behind bars.
The presiding judge also ruled not to release more than 200 bags of blood and plasma being held in a Barcelona freezer. Officials from WADA and Spain’s anti-doping agency had petitioned the court to have access to the bags to analyze them to determine who the blood belongs to.
Fuentes and Labarta both have a right to appeal, and the judge likely did not want to release the blood bags, considered evidence in the case, until the questions of possible appeals are resolved.
In the ruling, Fuentes also loses his medical license for four years and is fined about $6,000.
The judge also denied damages of $200,000 to former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano, who was an important whistle-blower in the case that helped authorities nab Fuentes in 2006.
According to media inside the courtroom, Saiz broke down in tears while Manzano was seen laughing and shaking his head.
The decision was scheduled to be released at 1 p.m. Spanish time, but the ruling was delayed due to another trial that was still ongoing inside the Madrid courtroom. An earlier report from the Spanish daily AS was accidentally posted before the verdicts could have been confirmed.
The judge’s ruling came less than a month after the two-month Puerto trial closed in Madrid.
The five were facing charges of endangering public health following the 2006 police raids that uncovered an international blood doping ring centered on Fuentes and former accomplice Merino Batres, a leading Spanish hematologist who did not face charges because he’s suffering from Alzheimer’s.
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