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In the latest of a series of interviews with Spanish radio station Cadena SER, Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of the Operacion Puerto investigation, has insisted that treatment he was giving a number of athletes in a variety of sports was designed to safeguard their health. Fuentes was once of five people arrested by Spanish police in May on suspicion of running a blood doping ring.
"I'm a doctor and I want to protect the health of my clients, not damage it," said Fuentes on Thursday morning. "Professional sport demands efforts that are bordering on the inhuman. It is not healthy, it is damaging because it forces the body to its limits. Athletes not only come to me to administer treatment but to receive checks on their body."
Fuentes also repeated his insistence that his clients included athletes from other sports besides cycling, despite the suggestion by Spanish sports minister Jaime Lissavetzky that only cyclists are implicated in the suspected blood doping ring. "Cycling is not the only sport where substances are taken to improve performance. The impression has been given that cycling has a monopoly on this type of activity, but it is not true," Fuentes declared.
"I have designed training programmes for football clubs. In football, it is impossible to be in form all season, so my aim was to design a programme that would allow them to be in top form at particular points in the season. When they used up their reserves I would recommend the administration of supplements to replace what they were losing." This seems to contradict statements from the Spanish government and authorities in other sports insisting the affair is solely centred on cycling.
Fuentes admitted he used blood extraction techniques with his clients, but denied administering banned substances. He said that quantities of the blood-boosting product EPO that were found in raids on properties he is linked with in Madrid were for family use.
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