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According to an investigation by the Spanish media company Relevo, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) permitted Spain to allow several positive drug tests to go without discipline. Additionally, the Spanish National Anti-Doping Agency, CELAD, is alleged to be complicit.

According to Relevo bureaucratic loopholes have been exploited to cover up several cases.

Relevo claims that notifications of sanctions were delayed until the last minute, to one year later as per the rules. Instead of being sent electronically, notifications were sent in the mail, which caused delays. Once athletes received the notice, the athletes were then able to appeal to the Sports Administrative Court (TAD), which ruled in favour of the athletes. Athletes were let go because the sanction had been received after the deadline had passed, which resulted in no suspensions.

James Fitzgerald with the World Anti-Doping Agency reached out to Athletics Illustrated with the following statement:

“…WADA is well aware of ongoing issues related to the National Anti-Doping Organization of Spain (CELAD) and is closely monitoring its activities to ensure they are compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. As part of that, we can confirm that there are a number of outstanding corrective actions that need to be addressed by CELAD as a matter of urgency. Failure to do so will result in a compliance procedure being initiated against it, as per the usual Code compliance process. WADA will always ensure CELAD – and all Anti-Doping Organizations – prosecute cases where appropriate to do so under the Code. Undue delays in dealing with cases will not be tolerated.”

— James Fitzgerald, WADA.

According to Relevo, CELAD, it is alleged, did not investigate athlete Patrick Chinedu Ike. Relevo claims that after he tested positive for norandrosterone and norethiocholanolone in 2019 nothing was done. “In this case, CELAD did not open an investigation, did not sanction the athlete and allowed him to continue competing.”

According to the publication Inside the Games, for five years, the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency allegedly used public funds to pay for the irregular collection of samples in anti-doping tests. Both its director, José Luis Terreros, and the head of the doping control department, Jesús Muñoz-Guerra, were aware that the tests were often carried out by a single agent, in contravention of Spanish regulations. As a result, positive results could be annulled.

After months of investigation, ‘Relevo obtained numerous documents supporting the allegation that PWC instructed control agents to go alone on certain “missions” — the technical term for sampling — especially when they were not competing. They were apparently confident that Muñoz-Guerra, who was responsible for approving them, would overlook this irregularity. This would be evidence of the alleged intent behind the contractor’s practices.

Furthermore, internal audits to detect irregularities were ignored. Following the discovery of possible irregularities dating back to 2017, Agustín González, Secretary General of CELAD in 2021, carried out a series of internal audits. As secretary general of the agency, he was responsible for the monthly payments to PWC with public funds from the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency”.

Spain has been under international fire for decades for its complicity in doping. The ‘Operación Puerto’ fiasco, in which only Italy sanctioned the cyclist Alejandro Valverde, added to its reputation as a country that is not tolerant of these practices but rather is complicit in them. In 2016, the World Anti-Doping Agency sanctioned Spain for failing to comply with international anti-doping rules.

There is more to come from these investigations.

The implications here will make those familiar with the Jama Aden investigation from Sabadell, Spain curious. He was arrested by Spanish police after a month-long sting operation. He continues to walk free, despite being caught red-handed with doping paraphernalia at his hotel, with over 20 world-class athletes in attendance. Mysteriously, he walked and nothing was said of the event. Some of his athletes include the Dibaba sisters.

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