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Mar 22, 2013

Real Madrid deny owing Fuentes money

Real Madrid say money Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes' claims he is owed by the club dates from a 2009 legal case Madrid took to force French newspaper Le Monde to withdraw allegations the club had used Fuentes' controversial medical services.

Fuentes made the allegation to reporters outside the court where the ongoing 'Operacion Puerto' trial is taking place, during which evidence of his central role in widespread performance-enhancing drug use in cycling has been heard.

"I wonder if Madrid will pay me what they owe me," Fuentes said, in comments reported in AS. The Spanish paper said he had made similar 'jocular' hints in the past about having worked previously for Madrid, as well as for other Spanish clubs Barcelona and Real Sociedad.

After Fuentes had left, his lawyer Tomas Valdivielso clarified the claim, and said previous attempts to get Madrid to pay the money had been unsuccessful.

"It is a debt [Madrid] has with him," Valdivielso told AS. "It comes from 2007, 2008 or 2009, I do not remember well. It is documented. It has nothing to do with Operacion Puerto."

When asked about the comments by Spanish press agency Europa Press, a Madrid spokesperson said Fuentes felt he was owed expenses due to his involvement in the 2009 case taken against Le Monde, but the club did not agree.

That case ended with the French newspaper paying Madrid €300,000 in damages and withdrawing a claim it had made in 2006 that Madrid - as well as Barcelona and other La Liga clubs - had been a client of Fuentes in the past.

Fuentes has said during the current trial, in which he and four co-accused face public health charges, that he could identify former patients from sports other than cycling.

Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria pointedly declined to ask him to do so, however documents revealed in court have allegedly contained the code 'RSOC', which former Real Sociedad president Inaki Badiola told AS was a reference to the Basque club.

Badiola claimed that Fuentes had been involved in doping at Real Sociedad during the term of his predecessor as txuri-urdin president Jose Luis Astiazaran, who is now Liga de Futbol Profesional (LFP) president. Astiazaran, who has decided not to continue in that role when his current term ends in April, has strongly denied Badiola's allegations.

Once the 'Puerto' trial has concluded next month, Judge Santamaria is to allow anti-doping authorities access to evidence, including bags of blood confiscated by investigating police which had been taken from so-far unnamed clients.

World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) president John Fahey told Spanish newspaper ABC in February that "everyone knows" a wide range of sportspeople were using Fuentes' services, including blood transfusions, and called for these people to be identified.