UCI joins appeal to gain access to Operacion Puerto evidence

Cycling world governing body wants access to the more than 200 blood and plasma bags seized in raids during the Puerto investigation

MADRID (AFP) — Cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, confirmed on Friday that it would appeal the decision by a Spanish court to refuse access to more than 200 sachets of blood that were seized in the Operación Puerto case against convicted doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

“The UCI can confirm that it will appeal the decision of the Madrid court of 29 April not to release to the UCI and other anti-doping organizations the more than 200 bags of blood and other evidence gathered in police raids in 2006, which were presented in the trial of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes,” read a statement from the UCI.

In appealing, cycling’s world governing body is following in the footsteps of the Spanish anti-doping agency (AEA), which already announced its intention to appeal judge Julia Patricia Santamaria’s decision to withhold the evidence.

“I have to ask the judge to give me whatever documentary or natural evidence there is, along with the blood bags, so that the proven facts that she herself considers as administrative infractions can be judged by the competent authorities,” said the then-head of the AEA, Ana Munoz.

A Madrid court last month handed Fuentes a one-year suspended sentence for endangering public health in the way he performed blood extractions and transfusions on a number of high-profile cyclists before the doping ring was dismantled in 2006.

In addition, trainer Ignacio Labarta was condemned to four months in prison, while three other co-accused — Eufemiano’s sister Yolanda Fuentes, Vicente Belda and former Liberty Seguros director Manolo Saiz — were cleared.

However, Santamaria refused to grant access for anti-doping agencies to the 211 blood and plasma bags that were found in Fuentes’ apartments in 2006. Instead, she ruled that they should be destroyed.