Spain has been the epicenter of the blood doping scandal that has engulfed cycling for years. Over the last 10 years, Spanish doctors have been linked with some of the biggest doping scandals in that sport.
One of the doctors behind the Tyler Hamilton doping is called Eufemiano Fuentes, and he has been at the center of the Operation Puerto blood-doping trial that has been going on in Madrid.
Fuentes is one of five defendants being tried on charges of endangering the public health with improperly performed blood transfusions since doping was not illegal in Spain when police began their investigation in 2006. It has since been criminalized.
So far, only cyclists have been implicated in the Puerto case, even though Fuentes has testified that he had clients from other sports, including football.
In February, the former president of Real Sociedad, Inaki Badiola, told sports daily AS the Basque club paid for its players to be doped from 2001-07 and pointed to Fuentes as a possible supplier.
This followed prosecutors questioning Fuentes about the letters “RSOC” that appeared on his papers found by police. Fuentes didn’t say what they meant before telling the media afterward that they sounded “like the name of a good wine.”
There have been whisper of doping at Barcelona something the club has strenously denied as well as at AC Milan who issued this statement in February:
“AC Milan have never had direct or indirect contact of any nature with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. Any references to the activities of Dr Fuentes in relation to Milan are therefore the result of false interpretations or a mistake.”
“Milan reserve the right to take legal action against anyone who claims anything contradictory.”
But today was not about whisper as Fuentes dropped a bombshell on Spanish radio when he said that he was
“interested in collecting on a debt from Real Madrid.”
When asked if the debt was for medical services he rendered to the Spanish champions, Fuentes responded,
“I can’t answer that.”
Fuentes’ lawyer, Tomas Valvidielso, said the debt
“had nothing to do with Operation Puerto” and was from “2007, 2008 or 2009.”
Real Madrid spokeswoman Marta Santisteban said that the club will post a statement on its website if it feels it is necessary.
It has never made sense to that doping would be so prevalent in Spanish cycling and not in football, considering that the money at stake is so much more in football.
The Puerto trial is set to conclude on 2 April and Fuentes and the other defendants could well face two years of jail time. If that happens, Fuentes might employ the torched earth strategy of taking everyone down with him. And the reverberations will be felt across Europe if that happens.