PtG Article 07.07.2006

Spanish authorities urged to publish all information in doping case

The Spanish authorities owe the world an explanation for how it has handled the publication of information about the investigation of the blood doping scheme in Spain. So says Jens Evald, chairman of Anti-Doping Denmark, who is deeply concerned about the legal rights of the cyclists named in the investigation.

Jens Evald is also professor of law at Aarhus University and he is very critical of the way the Spanish authorities have passed on information to the organisers of Tour de France with very serious consequences.

”All over the world named cyclists are under suspicion but no one seems to know what is up and down in this case. To protect the legal rights of cyclists and in the interest of the public, the Spanish police should publish all its findings from the investigations,” Evald said to the Danish daily, MetroXpress.

His point is underlined by the fact that the doctor at the centre of the investigation, Eufemiano Fuentes now claims that riders he has treated are still participating in the Tour de France.

”I have had enough of the hypocrisy. The Tour direction sent home riders that I never treated, and there are now clients of mine in the peloton. I'm furious. People were named that I don't even know but other names were concealed," Fuentes said this week in a radio interview with the Spanish radio Cadena Sar.

Heavy pressure on Spanish minister from UCI

Much of the information about the findings of the Spanish investigation has come into the public domain after leaks from the police to the media and the Spanish court is now investigating the source of those leaks.

Meanwhile, less attention has been paid to the fact that the UPI and the French Minister of Sport also applied heavy pressure on the Spanish Minister of Sport to name all athletes involved in Operation Puerto before Tour de France got underway on 1 July.

In an interview with, UCI President Pat McQuaid explains that once the story broke he went straight down to Madrid to see ”what information could be gleaned from the both the minister and the authorities down there.” McQuaid was told the information was subject to a secrecy order and then he ”put pressure on, saying that I hoped it would be (lifted) before the Tour de France.”

After several leaks to the media, the UCI President felt it was absurd that the media could get information when he could not, so ”serious pressure came on the Minister on Monday and Tuesday from a variety of sources, including the UCI. And that is how the list came out as a result,” McQuaid said.

Athletes are considered witnesses

Some but not all of the information in Operation Puerto has been given to the Spanish Minister for Sport, Jaime Lissavetsky, and the Spanish Council of Sport. The Council of Sport has produced a summary of the material and passed that information on to the UCI and the French government, but it refuses to give the athletes access to the information.

Asked about Ivan Basso’s possibilities of getting access to information about him, the press officer of the Spanish Council of Sport, Luis Lucio said to the Danish news agency Ritzau:

”He will only get access to the material, if UCI or the Italian Cycling Federation decides to open a case against him.”

An ironic twist in the case is that while the Spanish police has effectively been acting as private detectives on behalf of the UCI and other parties with an interest in a doping free Tour de France, the police  is not really interested in prosecuting the athletes.

Chief prosecutor in Madrid, Manuel Moix, tells Danish news agency Ritzau that the athletes are considered witnesses in the case against the main operators of the scheme.  The rest is a disciplinary matter between the cyclists and their federations.