Fuentes will not be forced to give client names

Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:04am EST
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By Iain Rogers

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, on trial for allegedly masterminding a doping ring in cycling, will not be obliged to identify any of the clients whose frozen blood was found in bags seized by police, the judge in the case ruled on Wednesday.

On his second day on the stand, Fuentes, who denies involvement in doping, said he could identify to whom the blood in the numbered bags belonged, prompting a request by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), represented at the trial in Madrid, that he do so in court.

Judge Julia Santamaria said she would not prevent him from revealing the names but would not force him to do so, saying it would infringe the rights of those implicated.

Fuentes and four other defendants, including his sister Yolanda, are appearing in court almost seven years after anabolic steroids, transfusion equipment and blood bags were seized as part of a investigation code-named "Operation Puerto".

The closely-watched and much-delayed trial began on Monday and when Fuentes took the stand on Tuesday he told the judge he had clients in sports other than cycling, including soccer, tennis, athletics and boxing.

The proceedings have attracted international scrutiny because anti-doping authorities, who along with CONI and several sporting organizations are taking part in the trial, are hopeful it will finally lead to evidence of wrongdoing by athletes in other sports being made available.

A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) request for access to the blood bags has been repeatedly denied by the Spanish authorities, and the body await the judge's ruling on their latest petition made this week.

Fuentes did reveal the name of one client on Wednesday, identifying former rider Jose Javier Gomez, now the president of Spain's association of professional cyclists (ACP) and the director general of a government foundation that promotes sport for young people.   Continued...

Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes (R) leaves a courthouse on the first day of the high-profile Operacion Puerto doping trial in Madrid, January 28, 2013. REUTERS/Sergio Perez