From Inside the Games

The Provincial Court of Madrid has ruled in favour of transferring the contents of the bags of blood, plasma and red blood cells in the Operation Puerto case to anti-doping authorities.

In a landmark decision in a case which has been dragging-on for over 10-years, the Court overturned an initial verdict that the evidence from the criminal trial of Eufemiano Fuentes should be destroyed and handed over to authorities.

Over 200 frozen bags of blood and plasma were seized from Fuentes’ clinic in the Spanish capital after a police raid in 2006, with the doctor found to have provided blood doping to several of the world’s leading cyclists.

Doping was not considered an offence in Spain at the time, with Fuentes having initially been given a one-year suspended sentence on public health grounds.

The Royal Spanish Cycling Federation, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Italian National Olympic Committee appealed the initial verdict of Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria.

The verdict will come as a surprise to many due to the lack of progress in the case, with the Court, unlike the initial outcome, putting doping at the centre of their decision.

A key part of the decision focuses on the notion that the right to privacy and not having the blood analysed had been compromised by the athletes concerned due to the blood not having been “within the body of the person”, while the case was also due to a “chance finding”.

“Attention to the aim pursued is to fight against doping, which undermines the essential ethical value of sport, which is fair play to prevent competition on equal terms,” a statement from the Court read.

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