April 30 - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has said it is disappointed with a decision made by the judge in Spain's "Operation Puerto" doping trial to destroy all the evidence from the case instead of making it available to other sports bodies and has hinted it is considering an appeal.
The case saw Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes (pictured top, left) receive a one-year suspended prison sentence and fined €4,650 (£3,940/$6,000), as well as being struck off as a medical doctor for four years, for breaking public health laws by giving elite cyclists blood transfusions and banned drugs to improve performance.
Fuentes had always denied doping but said in his opening testimony that he not only had clients in cycling - dozens of cyclists were implicated in spite of only a few being sanctioned - but also in other sports including football, tennis, athletics and boxing, although he did not say whether he had helped them dope.
The some 211 blood bags from 35 different people found in Fuentes' offices were labelled with codenames, believed to relate to top-level cyclists and possibly other athletes, but the doctor maintained the aim of the blood transfusions was to protect athletes' health and improve performance during training.
However, despite WADA and the Spanish National Anti-Doping Organisation (AEA) requesting access to the blood - to test whether athletes from sports other than cycling were involved in the doping ring - judge Julia Patricia Santamaria denied access and ordered for the evidence to be destroyed.
Her actions have attracted widespread condemnation with critics claiming she has damaged any hope that the case would unmask other athletes involved in illegal doping.
"WADA has carefully considered the decision rendered by the Criminal Court in Madrid in relation with the Operation Puerto," WADA director general David Howman said in a statement on the agency's website.
"The decision to order the destruction of all the blood bags is particularly disappointing and unsatisfactory for WADA, and the whole anti-doping community.
"Access to this evidence motivated WADA's involvement in this case.
"This would ensure appropriate sports sanction processes against the cheats who used Dr Fuentes' services.
"The Court did consider that his conduct was a crime against public health.
Howman explained, "WADA is currently fully reviewing the decision and any possible appeal or other action with its Spanish legal advisors, and the Spanish National Anti-Doping Organisation (AEA)", adding that the appeal deadline is May 17.
The AEA, meanwhile, has already said it plans to contest the judge's ruling to destroy the evidence in the case.
"We do not consider this the end of the process," said AEA director Ana Munoz.
Spain had been hoping the trial would help to quash perceptions that the nation was lenient on doping - it is currently updating its anti-doping legislation to bring it into line with international standards - in an attempt to boost Madrid's bid to win the right to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
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