ANDY Murray has continued his broadside against drug cheats, questioning the handling of a Spanish doping inquiry and asking if a decision to destroy evidence is the “biggest cover-up in sports history”.
The Scot, currently third in the world tennis rankings, used his Twitter account to criticise this week’s decision in the Operation Puerto case to destroy more than 200 bags of blood and plasma which were found when police raided the offices of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes in 2006. Fuentes was convicted earlier this week for his part in the supply of blood transfusions to cyclists, but he has also worked with athletes, boxers, footballers and tennis players.
The doctor, who received a one-year suspended sentence for endangering public health, has not said anything to implicate anyone in a sport other than cycling. Murray believes that the destruction of the blood and plasma could end the hope of revealing the extent of Fuentes’ involvement in other sports.
“Operacion puerto case is beyond a joke,” Murray tweeted. “Biggest cover up in sports history? Why would court order blood bags to be destroyed? #coverup.”
Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria ordered that the 211 bags of frozen blood and plasma be destroyed, but Spain’s anti-doping authority, the AEA, plans to contest the ruling. With the backing of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), they want to analyse the samples to determine if they reveal evidence of doping in the sports other than cycling in which Fuentes was involved.
“Access to this evidence motivated Wada’s involvement in this case,” a statement from Wada said. “This would ensure appropriate sports sanction processes against the cheats who used Dr Fuentes’ services. The court did consider that his conduct was a crime against public health.”
Former head of Wada, Dick Pound, said he was certain that examination of the samples would reveal more doping offences. “It’s embarrassing for Spain,” he said. “Everybody knows we will be able to uncover quite a bit more doping if the examples are made available.”
Murray has consistently suggested that his sport does everything possible to ensure it weeds out doping. “If one in 100 is doping then, in my eyes, that isn’t a clean sport and we need to do everything we can to ensure we have everyone that’s competing at the highest level and below is clean,” he said in February. “I know what goes in my body and I know from my side that I’m clean, so that’s all I can comment on.”
It was announced the following month that tennis will set up an Athlete Biological Passport scheme. Many scientists, and some leading tennis players, believe that such a scheme can be a more accurate way of detecting doping than urine tests. A biological passport compares samples taken over time.
Fuentes, who has been banned from practising as a doctor for four years, gave cyclists blood transfusions to boost their red blood cells. He also supplied EPO, hormones, insulin and testosterone. He has spoken in the past of working with footballers, but said he could not name them because he had been sent death threats.
Murray’s friend and fellow-tennis player, Colin Fleming, tweeted his support for the US Open champion. “What possible reason could there be for the judge in the Fuentes case to order the bags of blood to be
destroyed?” Fleming asked. “Other than preventing athletes he has helped blood dope being uncovered. Hope the appeal to have them tested is a success.”
An online petition has been started in a bid to help prevent the destruction of the samples. Under the heading ‘Operacion Puerto evidence must not be destroyed’, the petititon states: “As sports fans, we want to believe that athletes are clean, and that national and international authorities will work with sport governing bodies to preserve the integrity of sport. Clean athletes deserve to compete knowing that their rivals have not gained unfair advantage by the use of performance-enhancing drugs or blood doping.
“The Spanish court order to destroy blood bags collected in Operacion Puerto protects dopers, and severely undermines the integrity of sport.”
The petition has been posted on the website ipetitions.com.