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Sábado, 22 de Noviembre de 2014

The wider implications of Operation Puerto

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Alfredo Relaño | 08/02/2013

The world is viewing the Operation Puerto trial with scepticism. And it is our fault. After all, it was the Italians, not the Spanish, who managed to get hold of the blood bag named 'Val-Piti' believed to belong to cyclist Alejandro Valverde. The trial has also implicated a rider who was the son of a Spanish Civil Guard officer, and the director general of the Foundation for Youth Sport, a branch of the Spanish Government's Department for Sport.

The relationship between doping and athletics in Spain is still yet to be revealed, a fact that not a few people believe has something to do with the good relations the incombustible José María Odriozola, the president of the Spanish Athletics Federation, held with the previous Socialist Government.

And then there was the acronym 'Rsoc', discovered in documents owned by Eufemiano Fuentes, which was a reminder of Real Sociedad president Iñaki Badiola's allegations in 2008 - repeated in AS on Monday - that the club had purchased doping products in the past.

All this had lead to an image we do not like, but one which has a certain amount of truth: that in Spain, before, during and after Operation Puerto, we have not taken doping seriously. Not in cycling - where riders who were harassed in the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia competed in the Vuelta a España without any trouble at all; not in athletics - where Odriozola swept everything under the carpet - and not in other sports where suspicions were raised, as could be the case with the acronym 'Rsoc' if we look at some of the evidence.

I'm not going to say whether or not Eufemiano Fuentes should be condemned or not for crimes against public health. But the important thing is that the outside world can see that the whole thing is a fiasco. I deplore this image we have sent out, I think it's unfair in a way, but I have to admit that we have got this image tenaciously for our own sins, from Johann Muehlegg - the Spanish cross country skier disqualified from the 2002 Winter Olympic Games for doping - to Operation Puerto. It's important to know and we must get used to that reality if we ever want to be well looked upon by the international sporting community again. If we are not concerned with that, all we need to do is continue as we were until now.

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