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Feb, 4, 2013

LFP chief refutes doping allegations

Liga de Futbol Profesional president Jose Luis Astiazaran has denied claims by former Real Sociedad president Inaki Badiola that illegal medical practices took place during Astiazaran's term in charge of the Basque club.

The allegations were made by Badiola in AS on Monday, when he claimed La Real may have used the services of Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor currently on trial for doping charges in Spain.

Badiola, who was president of La Real for just under 12 months in 2008, said in the interview with AS that the Basque club's medical staff had bought illegal medicines on the black market before he took charge, including while Astiazaran was president between 2001 and 2005.

Documents revealed during the 'Operacion Puerto' trial last week contained the code 'RSOC', which Badiola said appears to be a reference to Real Sociedad.

"It looks like it, but it should be Eufemiano himself who confirms it in court," he said. "What is certain is that in 2008 our board publicly denounced doctors Eduardo Escobar and Antxon Gorrotxategi because, in the six seasons before us, at least, the directors paid for medicines or products which in that moment were categorised as used in doping. These were acquired with dirty money on the black market. We would like to see if [the evidence seen in court] fits with what we already said in 2008."

Badiola said that an external audit of Real Sociedad's previous accounts ordered when he took over the club had found evidence of illegal practices during Astiazaran's time. He said that a "normal country" would not have someone shown to have been involved in doping as president of its league.

"Astiazaran was in charge of the club in the first years we had audited by Ernst & Young, where irregularities were detected in 2002, 2003 and 2004," he said. "The case is clear. In any normal country, in the United States for example, with proof existing of involvement in banned practices, [Astiazaran] would be immediately removed from his position. In Spain what happens is things move slowly, or not at all. But I believe Astiazaran is not the most suitable person to be in charge of the LFP."

Astiazaran moved quickly on Monday to issue a statement denying the claims.

"During my time as president of Real Sociedad [2001-2005], I never had knowledge or suspicion of illegal practices by the club's medical services, who always worked to the maximum ethical and professional standards," said the statement. "If I had [knowledge or suspicion] I would have taken the proper forceful and diligent action."

The statement also maintains that during Astiazaran's term as president Real Sociedad always complied with doping controls without any problems, no charges were ever brought after the financial audit mentioned by Badiola and he may take legal action regarding the allegations.

It also recalls that in September 2011 Badiola himself was banned from acting as a director for two years after an investigation into his own running of Real Sociedad.

AS also released a video on its website on Monday, which allegedly shows Badiola discussing the €327,443 which La Real had paid annually to Fuentes, off the books, during Astiazaran's presidency. Badiola made this claim publicly at that time, but its re-emergence in the midst of the ongoing Puerto trial has made headlines in Spain.

The Spanish sports newspaper also reported on Monday that during the day's court proceedings a witness from Spain's Guardia Civil said that the 'RSOC' client referred to in Fuentes' documents had purchased "growth factors" on a regular basis.

Fuentes, who could face two years in jail but claims his treatments broke no Spanish laws, said last week that he could reveal the names of all his past clients. A number of leading Spanish and international former cyclists have been identified in court. Further names from the world of football and other sports could emerge as the proceedings, scheduled to run until March 22, progress.

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