The Spanish medical doctor accused of running the largest doping ring in cycling history has given his final statements in a Madrid court. A verdict is expected within the coming weeks.
The two-month trial against Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes ended on Tuesday with closing statements, during which Fuentes maintained his innocence.
"In my 35-years that I have exercised my professional activity, I have never harmed the health of my patients," Fuentes said. The doctor, whose alleged misdemeanors pre-date Spain's anti-doping laws, is instead being charged with endangering the health of his patients and the public. Prosecutors focused on issues like hygiene standards when conducting blood transfusions during the case.
Fuentes and four other defendants, including his sister, also a doctor, have been on trial since January, seven years after anabolic steroids, transfusion equipment and blood bags were confiscated as part of the "Operacion Puerto" investigation into doping.
The defendants face up to two-and-half years in prison if convicted.
Fuentes' case gained international attention because some of his clients were professional cyclists.
Numerous experts, witnesses, and police officers gave evidence during the trial, including 10 professional riders. Only three, Spaniard Jesus Manzano, US cyclist Tyler Hamilton and Germany's Joerg Jaksche, spoke about their medical interactions with the doctor.
Representatives from anti-doping authorities, who were also in court, hope the trial will lead to evidence of athlete misconduct in sporting disciplines other than cycling. Fuentes said precisely this in a radio interview with Spanish station Cadena Ser shortly after his initial arrest in 2006.
Court officials said Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria would publish her verdict in around six weeks. She is also expected to announce if she will grant the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) access to the blood bags, to perhaps probe the identities of athletes treated by Fuentes. The blood bags were labeled using an encryption; only some of them have been decoded.
jlw/msh (Reuters, dpa)