Spain's Alvaro Martin at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 2023. GETTY IMAGES

Seventy-eight top Spanish athletes on Wednesday expressed their "firm and absolute rejection of the recent actions" of the Spanish anti-doping agency (CELAD), whose head was sacked last month following allegations of irregularities.

In a statement published on social networks, the athletes, including two-time world walking champions Alvaro Martín, Mario García Romo, Eusebio Cáceres, Carlos Tobalina, Álvaro Martín, Fátima Diame, Mo Katir and Maria Perez, demanded "honesty and transparency" from the agency's directors in the fight against doping. 

"Recent events have only served to push back the boundaries and provoke feelings of mistrust, uncertainty and indignation towards our leaders in the fight against doping," they wrote.

"As professional athletes, we recognise the difficulty of eradicating doping," they said. "All sectors must reject any practice that violates the anti-doping rules defined by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency)."

This public stance comes after the Spanish government sacked the director of the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency (CELAD), Jose Luis Terreros, on 26 January. The Spanish government's Superior Council of Sports (CSD) had initially asked Terreros to resign on 5 January. 

The CSD sent a report on the agency to Spanish prosecutors after investigating a complaint alleging "irregularities in the use of public funds and in the control and sanctioning of doping". Spanish media outlet Relevo said CELAD had exploited bureaucratic loopholes to cover up positive cases. Terreros said the reports were "false information". 

"Today, all Spanish athletes could be victims of mistrust in our society and among our colleagues in other countries because of the recent news," said the athletes who signed the statement.

In a letter sent to the Spanish news agency EFE, the Spanish government's Superior Council of Sports (CSD) said it "shares the concern of the athletes" and "joins them in their defence of clean sport", following the statement made on Wednesday by 78 athletes expressing their "firm and absolute rejection of the recent actions of CELAD" (National Anti-Doping Agency). 

The CSD recalls the measures taken so far this year, such as the referral to the Public Prosecutor's Office on 2 January of "the results of an investigation carried out within the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sport following a complaint of alleged irregularities in the use of public funds and in the control and sanctioning of doping by CELAD". 

Another measure promoted by the CSD was the renewal of CELAD's leadership with the appointment of Silvia Calzón, who was Secretary of State for Health between August 2020 and November 2023, a period during which she was "responsible for the worst moments of the pandemic and the coordination of the vaccination campaign".

The CSD also stated that a "fluid and loyal working relationship" has been re-established with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). A team of experts from the WADA will visit CELAD on 27 February to continue the framework of cooperation established in various meetings and discussions in recent weeks. 

Finally, the organisation, chaired by José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, stresses that one of the first actions of the new leadership of CELAD will be the creation of a Coordination Commission for the Fight against Doping, of which more details will be announced soon.