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Feb 18, 2013

'High possibility' players doped - Fahey

World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) president John Fahey has called for the Spanish authorities to do more to investigate the possibility of doping in football.

The ongoing 'Operacion Puerto' trial of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes has uncovered evidence of widespread performance-enhancing drug use in cycling, and also suggested that the practice took place in others sports including football, tennis and athletics.

Fuentes said in court that he could identify former patients from these others sports, but as the terms of reference of the current trial only cover cycling, judge Julia Patricia Santamaria declined to ask him to do so.

Fahey told Spanish newspaper ABC that "everyone knows" that a wider range of sportspeople were using Fuentes' services, including blood transfusions, and these people must be identified.

"Everyone knows because of the information which has come out, and nobody has denied it," Fahey said. "The blood tests do not just refer to cyclists. There is a high possibility that footballers are involved. In the end, it should not matter what sport or which people are involved - what we want is that the people who had blood transfusions are identified."

El Pais has reported that the Spanish police found over 200 bags of blood at Fuentes' laboratory, labelled with aliases of individuals from various different sports who were being treated. Spanish authorities reportedly also possess surveillance tapes showing a large number of as yet unnamed sportspeople entering the building in which the bags of blood and related equipment were found.

Fahey said WADA expected the blood samples collected during 'Operacion Puerto' to be fully analysed once the current court proceedings were over, and further prosecutions could then follow.

"These people must be held to the applicable regulations," he said. "We want these bags of blood. With the blood and the names, numerous doping cases could be tackled, whether they are cyclists, footballers or tennis players."

Fuentes and his co-accused are being tried on public health charges, as doping was not actually illegal in Spain during the years covered by the trial. Fahey called on the Spanish government to take a stronger line on investigating the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport.

"In my country, Australia, the [Lance] Armstrong case led immediately to an investigation into football, and a retired judge made numerous recommendations to the responsible bodies," he said. "I am sure the Spanish government is just as aware, and I trust they will act in an adequate manner."

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

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