National Anti-Doping Agency of Spain, CELAD

According to an investigation carried out by 'Relevo', the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) allowed Spain to let several positive tests go unpunished. In addition, the National Anti-Doping Agency, CELAD, used various methods to avoid sanctioning these positive tests.

The investigation by ‘Relevo’ exposes the lack of transparency in a matter as sensitive as the fight against doping. Bureaucratic loopholes have been exploited to cover up a number of cases. In some cases, CELAD waited the maximum time allowed by the regulations, one year, between opening the case and informing the athlete. A positive case from 2019 involving a national athlete, reported by the aforementioned outlet, confirms this practice.

In this case, notification of the sanction was delayed until the 365th day allowed by the rules. Instead of being sent electronically, it was sent by post, which caused a delay in reaching the athlete. Once she received it, the athlete was able to appeal to the Sports Administrative Court (TAD), which ruled in her favour on the grounds that the sanction had been notified after the legal deadline, resulting in no punishment.

Another case, as reported by, involved national team athlete Patrick Chinedu Ike, who tested positive for endogenous AAS, norandrosterone and norethiocholanolone in 2019. In this case, CELAD did not open an investigation, did not sanction the athlete and allowed him to continue competing. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took no action to impose sanctions, even though the positive result was published on the athlete's profile in WADA's ADAMS system.

Another method used to hide various positives is the use of retroactive approvals known as Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE), as previously reported by 'Relevo' in the case of marathon runner and current national record holder Majida Maayouf. These were created to allow athletes to request and justify the use of banned substances under medical prescription. They are also granted in exceptional circumstances following an adverse analytical finding by an athlete.

According to the 'Relevo' investigation, WADA is in possession of documents proving the existence of illicit positive results in Spanish sport. For at least the last five years, the independent body responsible for promoting, coordinating and monitoring these prohibited practices in sport has allowed Spain not to sanction athletes who have violated anti-doping rules.

‘Relevo’ suggests that WADA was aware of the unsanctioned positive results in Spain, but either turned a blind eye to them or did not have the tools to control the malpractice within its own system. In the latest chapter of this investigative journalism, 'Relevo' reveals that the Spanish anti-doping agency paid for irregular testing for five years, a situation that continued between at least 2017 and 2022, despite knowing that anti-doping tests were not being carried out in accordance with existing laws.

For at least five years, the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency allegedly used public funds to pay for the irregular collection of samples in anti-doping tests. Both its director, José Luis Terreros, and the head of the doping control department, Jesús Muñoz-Guerra, were aware that the tests were often carried out by a single agent, in contravention of Spanish regulations. As a result, positive results could be annulled.

Professional Worldwide Controls (PWC), the company awarded the testing contract, collected samples from athletes using a single testing agent, according to more than 30 documents submitted to the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sport. In order to save the company money, these agents worked alone or with people who were not administratively authorised. The real inspectors were not on the same payroll as people without administrative authorisation.

After months of investigation, 'Relevo' has obtained numerous documents supporting the allegation that PWC instructed control agents to go alone on certain "missions" - the technical term for sampling - especially when they were not competing. They were apparently confident that Muñoz-Guerra, who was responsible for approving them, would overlook this irregularity. This would be evidence of the alleged intent behind the contractor's practices.

Furthermore, internal audits to detect irregularities were ignored. Following the discovery of possible irregularities dating back to 2017, Agustín González, Secretary General of CELAD in 2021, carried out a series of internal audits. As secretary general of the agency, he was responsible for the monthly payments to PWC with public funds from the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency".

Spain has been under international fire for decades for its complicity in doping. The 'Operación Puerto' fiasco, in which only Italy sanctioned the cyclist Alejandro Valverde, added to its reputation as a country that is not tolerant of these practices, but rather is complicit in them. In 2016, the World Anti-Doping Agency sanctioned Spain for failing to comply with international anti-doping rules.