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WADA’s Intelligence and Investigations department is nearly finished a process of analyzing DNA and blood to identify numerous athletes involved in the Operación Puerto scandal, but the implicated individuals will not be named publicly, insidethegames reports.
A 2006 raid on the Madrid-based clinic run by doctor Eufemiano Fuentes obtained some 200 blood bags, believed to be tied to both cyclists and athletes from various other sports disciplines. A handful of athletes were linked to the scandal at the time, among them, Alejandro Valverde, Jan Ullrich, Thomas Dekker, and Tyler Hamilton. Many of the samples, however, were not initially connected to athletes.
Over a decade has passed since then, with the analysis of the many unidentified blood bags held up for years, stored in a freezer in Barcelona, due to a dragged out legal process in Spanish courts. Doping was not a criminal offense in Spain at the time of the raid.
Although anti-doping experts ultimately were able to begin identifying some of the samples, undertaking a DNA analysis process on 35 frozen bags of blood and plasma, the statute of limitations has long since passed. Therefore, anti-doping authorities say they will be unable to publicly identify those implicated.
“We will not be able to publish the names of those athletes because the eight-year statute of limitation passed on this case in 2014,” WADA told insidethegames.
“This is due to the very significant time taken by the Spanish justice system to provide WADA and other anti-doping organizations involved with samples taken from the blood bags.
“While a number of athletes have been sanctioned some time ago in relation to Operación Puerto, it is fair to say that from WADA’s perspective, we faced many obstacles and difficulties in this case, and invested significant resources over the past 12 years to get to the bottom of this case for a very limited and disappointing outcome.”
WADA does plan to explore what options legally remain following the identification process. According to insidethegames, the anti-doping organization could confidentially share the names of identified athletes with their respective federations and national anti-doping organizations. Nonetheless, the final result is a frustrating one for those expecting the lengthy Operación Puerto saga to finally shed light on doping activities of numerous athletes both within the world of cycling and elsewhere in the world of sport.
“The Spanish legal system did not make our life easy and we never received any official support or assistance from any Spanish authority in this process,” WADA’s spokesperson told insidethegames.
“Several issues were identified in the way this file was managed by the Spanish courts and we have tried all that we could without success.
“This is extremely regrettable for clean sport and clean athletes.”