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Feb 5, 2013

Badiola stands by doping claims

Former Real Sociedad president Inaki Badiola has repeated his claims that Jose Luis Astiazaran, his predecessor at the Basque club and current Liga de Futbol Profesional (LFP) president, was involved in doping practices at La Real.

On Monday, Astiazaran angrily denied the claims, which had been made in an interview with sports newspaper AS. Real Sociedad's current board also issued a strong statement distancing themselves and the club from any illegal activities.

The allegations come in the midst of the ongoing 'Operacion Puerto' trial, in which Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes and four co-defendants face doping charges. Documents revealed in court contain the code 'RSOC', which Badiola said appears to be a reference to Real Sociedad.

Badiola told 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.

On Monday night's El Larguero radio show the lawyer, who was club president for just under 12 months in 2008, said again that Astiazaran had authorised payments to Fuentes and should leave his post as head of the LFP.

"Astiazaran knew about it and allowed it," Badiola said. "Of course he did not inform anybody about what was going on. But to come out now and say that it is false... he should be consistent and resign."

Badiola said that, during Astiazaran's time in charge, under-the-counter payments were being made via the club's doctors to Fuentes.

"[The club was spending] €300,000 a year for medications, when the legal products cost about €15,000 or €20,000," he said. "We discovered it when doing the 'due diligence' with Ernst & Young. We matched it against the notes from Eufemiano [Fuentes] which came to us. On some it said 'Asti's account'."

Asked if players at the club had known they were being treated with illegal products, Badiola said the responsibility lay with the medical staff and club officials.

"I do not know. The players have no part in this," he said. "The responsibility lies with the president, for not eradicating these practices, and the doctors."

In a related development, El Pais published an image on Tuesday of a note said to have been written by Fuentes, which include the codes 'Asti' and 'RSOC'. The names of banned products are also written on the note, including the drug Actovegyn, which is known as 'Poor Man's EPO', according to the newspaper.

Monday's statement from Real Sociedad strongly denied that the club's current regime, which took over when Badiola was ousted in late 2008, had anything to do with any illegal practices and maintained the club had a zero-tolerance drug policy.

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, with lawyers for the defendants apparently keen to see the spotlight move towards other sports, including football and tennis. The proceedings are scheduled to run until March 22.

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