Operation Puerto affair reopened

More fireworks to come

The Operation Puerto blood-doping affair involving about 60 cyclists and which erupted in May 2006, has been reopened, Madrid prosecutors' said on Thursday.

A raid on the Madrid laboratory of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes uncovered doping products, bags of blood and codenames which appeared to link top athletes to a highly-organised system of doping via blood transfusions.

A source linked to the Spanish government told AFP on Thursday that Madrid prosecutors claimed there could be new evidence on possible discrepancies concerning the obtaining, transport, preservation and identification of bags of blood seized during the inquiry.

The case had been closed in March 2007 because there did not exist in Spain a law which punished behaviour related to doping.

Since then, this gap in the legal system has been filled by a new law dated November 21 last year designed to protect health and fight against doping in sport.

So far, only Italy's top rider, Ivan Basso, has been sanctioned in the affair.

Basso is serving a two-year ban, although dozens of other cyclists - including Spaniards Alejandro Valverde and Tour de France winner Alberto Contador - have in the past been linked to the controversy.

Last year the affair virtually vanished under the weight of Spanish legal red tape but now the case has officially been reopened and could lead to a major investigation being carried out by the bodies that have been appealing for sanctions to be handed down.

© BikeRadar & AFP 2008

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