WADA has identified 11 athletes linked with Operation Puerto – but they still can’t be named

The anti-doping authority has concluded its investigation into the long-running doping scandal

The World Anti-Doping Agency has identified 11 athletes implicated in the long-running Operation Puerto doping investigation.

WADA has now closed its investigation into the blood doping case, which dates back to 2006 and has been marred by legal proceedings and delays.

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Anti-doping authorities have been locked in a legal battle to publish the names of sportspeople linked to the scandal, with WADA carrying out DNA analysis work to confirm their identities.

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The authority has identified 11 athletes implicated in the scandal by testing blood bags seized in police raids in 2006, WADA’s 2018 annual report reveals, but their names cannot be published.

A police operation resulted in hundreds of bags being seized from a clinic run by Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

In the investigations update section of the report, WADA said: “Having started in 2006, the Puerto investigation was concluded in August 2019.

“In that time, a total of 215 samples of possible athletes of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes were compared with the DNA extracted from the blood bags and serum vials seized by Spanish authorities.

“In total, 11 athletes (10 male and one female) have been identified through this process as clients of Dr. Fuentes.

“However, due to the 10-year statute of limitations having elapsed, names can no longer be made public.”

Because the statute of limitations has passed, Spanish courts have ruled that publishing the names of athletes involved would be a breach of their privacy.

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WADA investigators have used documents from the police and anti-doping laboratories, interviews with experts and media reports to identify athletes and test samples against the Puerto blood.

The authority previously said it will pursue other options for the list of names, including potentially confidentially sharing them with international federations and national anti-doping organisations.

Big name riders were implicated in the scandal, including Alejandro Valverde.

In 2009 Valverde was given a two-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for sport for his involvement in Puerto.

Despite never actually failing a doping test, he was linked to the doping ring by DNA evidence