Enrique Gomez Bastida said that the possible destruction of more than 200 bags of blood seized during Operacion Puerto would be "a hard blow"

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Enrique Gomez Bastida, head of Spain’s Anti-Doping Agency (AEPSAD), has publicly criticised the possibility that blood bags seized in a raid on notorious doctor Eufemiano Fuentes may be destroyed, saying it would be “a hard blow for our anti-doping fight.”

Gomez Bastida, as an officer in the Guardia Civil, was an instrumental part of Operacion Puerto, the 2006 Spanish police operation formed to investigate the doping network surrounding Dr Fuentes, which implicated Alejandro Valverde, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, among others.

As many as 220 bags of blood were seized from Dr Fuentes’ lab and are currently in the custody of the anti-doping lab in Barcelona. A court ruling on the fate of the blood bags is expected soon and Gomez Bastida fears that crucial evidence of doping may be destroyed and lost forever.

Gomez Bastida, speaking to El Mundo (in Spanish), said: “if I weren’t in the position of director of the agency, I would be satisfied, because at the time [of the Puerto investigation] the sporting aspect was not the central issue.”

“Now that I’m not a police officer, I’ve got a different perspective and it [a verdict ordering the bags to be destroyed] would be a hard blow because it’s important to send a clear message in the anti-doping struggle. It’s important that those implicated recognise the facts.”

Unless AEPSAD is successful in its appeal – which is supported by WADA – against an April 2013 ruling by Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria that the blood bags should be destroyed, their potential ability to identify unknown collaborators with Dr Fuentes will be lost.

If the blood bags are released rather than destroyed, AEPSAD will oversee the identification process. But this would be very difficult as DNA samples will be required, which many riders may refuse. Gomez Bastida suggested there may even be riders who “perhaps did not even know that Fuentes was their doctor, because their sports directors were in charge of the procedure”, further complicating matters.

  • Gareth Hillary

    Wasn’t there a quote from Dr Fuentes or one of his assoiciates along the lines of “Dig too deep and Spain will have to give back Olympic medals and the World Cup” ?

  • rayvk

    Riders? This isn’t about riders anymore. These are blood bags that belong to footballers, tennis players, track&field athletes and boxers. hence the need for a cover-up

  • John Westwell

    Indurain had retired 10 years earlier, so his blood wasn’t present.

  • John Westwell

    …and tennis players and athletes, according to what Fuentes said at the time. Of the total, around 50 were said to belong to cyclists, many of whom have been linked to the case (includng Ullrich and Basso). But not one footballer or tennis player has been named, although at the time one famous tennis player threatened legal action against any media organisation which explicitly linked him to the case.

  • Daniel

    I have no doubt there is doping going on in Football. However, I was referring to cycling in my original comment.

  • Andrew Bairsto

    And you think it is any better today no matter what the nation, team or rider.
    Most of the blood bags seized were not cyclists but were footballers.

  • Tim packer

    If each blood bag was matched to whoever the professional cyclist it matched Spanish cycling would be in dire straits.. This is why that doper indurain is still hailed as a 5 time tour winner and not a cheater…

  • Dan

    I hope the sport your referring to is football, especially given a team who play in white’s alleged involvement in the case?

  • Daniel

    Refusing to provide DNA samples would be an admission of guilt anyway. The sport is full of embarrassment.