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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 7, 2006

Doping case doc denies links with Barca, Real

PARIS, Dec 7 (Reuters) - The doctor at the centre of a Spanish investigation into doping has denied French media reports linking him with helping Real Madrid and Barcelona.

'These accusations are far too serious. Independent of whether clubs have denied it or not, I can deny it because there is nothing in it,' Fuentes told Spanish state television on Thursday.

French daily Le Monde said it had accessed documents suggesting Fuentes, who has been targeted by investigators in a scandal linked to cycling, had been in charge of the physical preparation of the top two Spanish clubs.

'Real Madrid have no links with Eufemiano Fuentes and never have done,' a Real spokesman said.

'None of our players can go to another doctor without the permission of the club, and no one has asked permission to be treated by him.'

Barcelona issued a 'categorical denial' of the newspaper report, adding that they reserved the right to take legal action.

Two other Spanish clubs mentioned by Le Monde, Valencia and Real Betis, also denied having had any relationship with Fuentes.

Le Monde said it had obtained documents with Fuentes's handwriting detailing the physical preparation the clubs should follow. The newspaper said the documents featured signs which Spanish investigators believe indicate banned drugs.

When asked by Spanish state television if these documents were genuine Fuentes replied: 'As far as I know, no.'

The doctor went on to say he would never have revealed names of patients or entities he worked with.

'I have never given names, nor will I, of people or sporting clubs I have worked with,' he added.

In the interview with Le Monde, Fuentes told the paper he had received death threats.

'I was told that if I told certain things, my family and myself could have serious problems', he said.

A probe into doping known as Operacion Puerto was launched in Spain after raids on addresses in Madrid and Zaragoza in May in which police found large quantities of anabolic steroids, laboratory equipment used for blood transfusions and more than 100 bags of frozen blood.

As a result of the raids, Spain's Civil Guard compiled a list of more than 50 professional riders implicated in the investigation. Several cycling officials and Fuentes were among those questioned by police.

Fuentes repeated in the interview that he had worked not only with riders but also for football clubs, athletes and tennis players.

'I worked with Spanish first and second division clubs,' he told Le Monde. 'I worked with several clubs at the same time, sometimes directly with the players, sometimes by sharing my knowledge with the clubs' doctors.

'I had an offer from an Italian club but I turned it down,' he said, refusing to name the club.

In the interview, Fuentes said his only concern had been to protect the health of the athletes he was working with. He did not deny, however, having prescribed banned performance-enhancing substances.

'If a sportsman endangers his health by practising his discipline, I react first of all as a doctor. If the substance used to protect him is on the list of banned substances, it's of secondary importance,' he said.