Seven more names - including four active riders - matched to Puerto blood bags, court action prevents release

The long-running Operación Puerto doping scandal looks to be on its last legs. More than a decade following the 2006 raids that uncovered one of sport’s largest blood doping rings, last-ditch efforts to identify more names are hitting more legal roadblocks.

A Spanish court this week blocked the latest efforts by WADA to release names — the World Anti-Doping Agency says it’s confirmed seven more names, including four still active — while Italian officials have not taken up offers to pursue the case. The Spanish daily AS reported that courts ruled the latest requests extend beyond the 10-year statute of limitations pertaining to the never-ending case.

WADA officials finally received custody in 2016 of more than 100 bags of blood and plasma that were part of police raids taken in 2006 from labs and offices of ringleader Eufemiano Fuentes. A WADA official told AFP they tried to cross-match DNA samples of the blood bags to current and former athletes from earlier controls still being held. Of the many dozens of samples, only seven could be accurately matched. WADA officials told AFP four remain active.

WADA said it will try one last time to press for release of more names in 2019, but suggested the case could be finally closed without more names being officially identified, AFP reported.