Prosecutors close Puerto case Friday and again call for jail time

Spanish prosecutors give final arguments in their case against Eufemiano Fuentes, Manolo Saiz, and three others

MADRID (AFP) — Spanish prosecutors on Friday called for a doctor at the center of a high-profile blood doping racket in professional cycling to be jailed for two years as they closed their case after six weeks of hearings in Madrid.

Public prosecutor Rosa Calero said that Eufemiano Fuentes should be imprisoned as he was the “soul and ideologist” of a “fraudulent and
punishable” network whose intention was to improve sports performance in return for money.

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Fuentes and four co-defendants are on trial, accused of endangering public health by performing blood transfusions on a number of high-profile athletes. They deny the charges.

The five are not facing incitement to doping charges, which was not a crime in Spain at the time of their arrests in 2006 as part of the Operatión Puerto probe.

But Calero said Spain’s criminal code still provided for imprisonment. She said the article states that those who “supply deteriorated or out-of-date medicines, or those that do not comply with the technical requirement of their composition, stability, or efficiency, or substitute some medicines for others, put in danger the life or health of those people to whom the medicine is supplied.”

Calero also said Fuentes’ method 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.

Another lawyer representing the state, Lucia Pedreno, laid out evidence against the other four accused and their roles in Fuentes’ operation.

Pedreno said that in their roles as team directors of the Liberty Seguros and Kelme cycling teams, respectively, Manolo Saiz and Vicente Belda were key collaborators in introducing Fuentes to clients who were part of their teams. Vicente Labarta was said to have provided much the same assistance to Fuentes with cyclists to whom he was physical trainer. Meanwhile, Yolanda Fuentes, Eufemaino’s sister, was implicated in the delivery of blood bags to cyclists in recorded conversations and in the testimony of the whistleblower in the case, former cyclist and Fuentes client Jesus Manzano.