February 19, 2008 (Madrid, Spain) — A Spanish court has reopened the dormant Puerto Investigation into the 2006 doping scandal reports AP. Allegedly, many top athletes – including cyclists – were clients of a doping clinic operated by Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. Spanish judge Antonio Serrano dropped the investigation in March 2007 because the athletes had apparently not broken any law applicable at the time. Since the Puerto scandal, Spain has enacted much tougher and comprehensive anti-doping legislation, but this cannot be applied retroactively.
A spokesman for the UCI, Enrico Carpani, is quoted in the AP article in saying that his organization is happy that the case has been reopened.
The current investigation apparently will not target any of the athletes involved, but rather will focus on Fuentes and his colleagues, determining if they broke any public health guidelines with the blood transfusions they allegedly administered to athletes. Although athletes are not the target of this Spanish investigation, they may still face penalties from their respective sports federations.
Another investigation of Puerto is ongoing in Italy as conducted by the Olympic committee (CONI) there and that probe has the power to call foreign witnesses. Witnesses who do not appear would presumably be banned from the 2008 Giro and the 2008 Tour de France that passes through part of Italy this year.
Spain, Italy and France have all enacted new and wider reaching anti-doping legislation since 2006. New legislation in each of these countries now allows for sanctions against the coaches of athletes guilty of doping. It remains to be seen what effect this will have on the world’s top three races: the TdF, the Giro, and the Vuelta.
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