Spanish Doctor Convicted For Role In Sports Doping Ring

Apr 30, 2013
Originally published on April 30, 2013 8:01 pm
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In Spain, a doctor who doled out blood transfusions to all sorts of athletes, including teammates of Lance Armstrong's, has been convicted of endangering public health. The doctor is believed to have run one of the world's largest doping rings, but his client list remains a mystery, as Lauren Frayer reports from Madrid.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Spain's most infamous doctor watched from his home in the Canary Islands, as a court here convicted him of endangering public health. Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes got a one-year suspended prison sentence and will be banned from practicing sports medicine for the next four years. By his own admission, Fuentes gave blood transfusions to hundreds of athletes.

DR. EUFEMIANO FUENTES: (Foreign language spoken)

FRAYER: Cyclists, soccer players, whole soccer teams, even boxers, I treated them all, he bragged on the stand back in January. Spain had no doping law at the time of Fuentes' arrest in 2006, though it does now, so prosecutors charged him with endangering public health and called a long line of witnesses, like former cyclist Jesus Manzano.

JESUS MANZANO: (Foreign language spoken)

FRAYER: He injected me, then I started the Tour de France stage and felt worse and worse. And finally I fainted, he testified in February. Lance Armstrong's former teammate Tyler Hamilton told the court via video from America that Dr. Fuentes botched his transfusions too.

TYLER HAMILTON: When I went to the bathroom, my urine was black.

FRAYER: Today, a judge convicted Fuentes and a former cycling coach. But the ruling falls short of what many anti-doping advocates had hoped for.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIREN)

FRAYER: Back in 2006, Spanish police raided Fuentes' office and seized more than 200 bags of frozen blood. Europe has been frantic over which famous sports stars they could belong to.

JOSE CARLOS CARRABIAS: Everybody wants to know if there are cyclists or footballers, soccer, tennis. Everybody wants to know who.

FRAYER: Sports journalist Jose Carlos Carrabias says the World Anti-Doping Agency petitioned the court for access to those blood bags. But today, the judge ruled that Fuentes' clients have a right to privacy and the blood bags will be destroyed. One person, Dr. Fuentes, knows who they belong to. He had three months on trial to name names but refused to do so. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Madrid. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.