Commentators on almost every sport had their say about professional cycling in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal.
Now here’s a chance for those from outside of cycling who criticised it to call for their own areas of interest (financial and otherwise) to be held to the same standard.
A court hearing in to the practices of Dr Eufemio Fuentes, his sister Yolanda, and three others, opens today in Madrid.
It is the final, much delayed outcome of the Operacion Puerto investigation, begun in 2006, with a police raid on the Madrid apartments of Fuentes and others, from which 220 blood bags were recovered.
Now, here’s the thing – Spanish police have only been able to link cyclists to the blood bags recovered. No athlete involved in the football industry, or from tennis, has been identified, despite the assertions in 2008 of UCI president, Pat McQuaid, that at a meeting with the Spanish police and the country’s then sports minister, he was assured that Fuentes’ client base included athletes from the aforementioned sports, as well as from athletics and swimming.
McQuaid is not the only one to have claimed the investigation uncovered clients of Fuentes from other sports. Jesús Manzano, a confessed doper who raced for four years with the now-disbanded Kelme-Costa Blanca squad, and whose revelations in a Spanish newspaper sparked Operacion Puerto, has alleged that footballers, rowers, and athletes from track and field sports were among those ‘treated’ by Dr Fuentes.
A cover up? David Howman, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said in a statement to The Guardian newspaper that “every possible block has been put in the way” of exposing athletes from sports other than cycling.
“We were told it wasn’t just one sport. But we’ve never been given the follow-up data. This has so far proved to be a very unfair caricature of one sport, where there were others involved,” he told The Guardian.
Professional cycling has been eviscerated in recent months, and rightly so. Now here’s the chance for those with little or no interest in the sport, but who climbed aboard the bandwagon of the USADA enquiry in pursuit of an easy headline, to demand the same rigorous investigation of their own sports.