Key testimony delayed on Puerto trial first day

Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:49am EST
 

By Iain Rogers

MADRID (Reuters) - The high-profile and much-delayed trial of a Spanish doctor accused of masterminding a doping ring in cycling got off to an anti-climactic start on Monday when his testimony was postponed until Tuesday.

Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes and four other defendants are appearing in a Madrid court almost seven years after police seized anabolic steroids, transfusion equipment and blood bags as part of a probe code-named "Operation Puerto".

The blood bags were linked to a host of professional cyclists including German Jan Ullrich and Italian Ivan Basso, who were both excluded from the 2006 Tour de France.

Basso, a double Giro d'Italia champion, is due to give evidence next month along with Alberto Contador, the Spaniard stripped of one of his three Tour titles after testing positive for a banned substance.

Amid farcical scenes outside the court on Monday, Fuentes was mobbed by camera crews and photographers as he arrived around 9 a.m. local time.

The dozens of Spanish and international journalists covering the trial were then made to wait some two hours before being granted access to the court building.

Judge Julia Santamaria met the defendants and their lawyers for an initial discussion before calling a halt to proceedings at around 2 p.m. and rescheduling Fuentes's testimony for Tuesday morning.

Fuentes left without speaking to the reporters thronging the court entrance, but the lawyer for former cyclist Jesus Manzano, who is to give evidence in the case, did.   Continued...

 
Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes (front C) is surrounded by media as he leaves a courthouse on the first day of the high-profile Operacion Puerto doping trial in Madrid, January 28, 2013. The trial of Fuentes and others accused for their involvement in a doping ring in professional cycling began on Monday, nearly seven years after Spanish police seized anabolic steroids, transfusion equipment and blood bags as part of a probe code-named "Operation Puerto". REUTERS/Sergio Perez