Spain’s Dr Fuentes doping scandal: more surprises in store?
So toxic are the Eufemiano Fuentes doping allegations that even the Spanish Royal Family have taken note.
That, at least, is what someone inside the world anti doping “community” – as they like to call themselves – told me of late.
It’s one of the many rumours that have intermittently shed shards of shocking sunlight and then obfuscatory shade onto the world of doping in sport during the last decade.
And well worth considering as the trial of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes (for endangering the health of athletes whilst treating them with banned drugs and banned procedures) grinds to a conclusion next week.
Apparently when the “King’s team” (Real Madrid) were said by a French newspaper in a 2006 article to be using Fuentes and his controversial treatment methods – the Spanish monarchy felt enough was enough.
Time to close this rather embarrassing sideshow down. So Real sued, along with Barcelona – the other club that Fuentes had claimed to the French paper was following his rulebook.
The paper paid up – but the matter has still not been entirely resolved: seven years later it is still attempting to appeal.
Yet when his trial finally got underway, senior figures at another big Spanish club – Real Sociedad – admitted publicly they used Dr Fuentes to treat players, describing “strange medicines” on the invoices the doctor would produce.
It seems whenever the high wire drama that are the travails of Dr Fuentes shows signs of slowing to a pedestrian end, something pops up that has the potential to far outstrip anything Lance Armstrong has had to say on a late night confessional chat show.
On the steps of Madrid’s court number 19 the other day Dr Fuentes dropped this bombshell: Real, he said, still “owed him a debt”. He didn’t immediately expound on what this debt was, leading to all manner of wild speculation.
Real attempted to elucidate: explaining that (despite being the original source of the story in the French paper) Fuentes had then gone on to appear as a witness for Real in their case against said paper.
The only debt he could be referring to, Real explained, was the travel and forgone earnings expenses he incurred whilst coming to their defence. But that didn’t stop Real threatening to sue Dr Fuentes for besmirching their good name.
Despite that, the doctor would leap to their help once again – insisting soon after that, in fact, he’d never treated any Real players. He had, he said “never given a Madrid player as much as an aspirin”.
These are rather bold words for a man who was found to have 200 blood bags and all manner of performance enhancing drugs in his possession in the doping bust that began his demise back in 2006.
Next Tuesday Fuentes has a final chance to address the court, before the judge retires to consider her verdict.
It’s taken Operacion Puerto nearly a decade to come to any kind of fruition – and it may yet yield little more than a suspended sentence for a doctor at the centre of a doping project that he admitted at the very start went far beyond cycling, into the realms of football, boxing and athletics.
By Fuentes’ own admission footballers were on his client list. And the whistleblower whose evidence led to the biggest doping investigation in the history of sport told us he saw players at the clinic so famous, there will be very red faces indeed should the Spanish authorities come good on their threats to order the blood bags be handed over to the “anti doping community” for investigation and analysis.
Spain herself is busy bidding for the 2020 Olympics – and in a rather desperate rearguard effort to regain some credibility, is tightening its once non-existent anti doping legislation.
The new political administration wants, apparently, to show the past a clean pair of heels.
And so scared were the outgoing mob that – so I’m told – not a single file pertaining to Operacion Puerto remained in the Ministry of Sport when the new officials took their seats in 2011.
What, precisely, is it in the Operacion Puerto file that has spooked so many, for so long?
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