October 27, 2017 / 2:45 PM / a year ago

Athletics: Euro 5000m champ Fifa temporarily released after doping arrest

FILE PHOTO: Athletics - European championships - Men's 500m relay final - Amsterdam - 10/7/16 Spains Ilias Fifa reacts after winning REUTERS/Michael Kooren

MADRID (Reuters) - - European 5,000 meter champion Ilias Fifa and eight other athletes have been provisionally released by police after their arrest on Wednesday for alleged links to a doping network, Spanish legal officials said on Friday.

However the case against the nine remains open.

Fifa was arrested at his home in Santa Coloma de Gramanet on the outskirts of Barcelona on Wednesday during a series of raids across the country for what was described as “the use of medicines which pose serious danger to health.” The athlete, along with five others from the region have all been provisionally released from custody after exercising their right to not declare in front of regional judges.

Fifa’s agent did not reply to a Reuters request for comment on the case.

“The six athletes have been given provisional freedom with the obligation to appear in front of the judge twice a month, having given up their passports and are banned from leaving Spanish territory,” a judiciary statement from the Mataro (Catalonia) judge’s office said, in reference to the six local athletes.

Similar conditions have been imposed on the three from outside Catalonia. Fifa, 28, won the 5,000 meters gold at the 2016 European Athletics Championship in Amsterdam, taking advantage of the absence of Britain’s Mo Farah who skipped the event to concentrate on the Rio Olympics.

Born in Morocco, he has been competing under the Spanish flag since 2015 after arriving in the country a decade earlier hidden in a truck. The Royal Spanish Athletics Federation (RFEA) said on Wednesday they learned about the arrest through the media and backed police work against doping. “We show our total respect for police and judicial actions,” an RFEA statement said. “This federation is conscious of the damage doping causes to the credibility and image of our sport and are firmly committed to the fight against this blight.”

Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli

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