Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Biting Back: The doping scandal

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Lance Armstrong claimed he has not doped since 2005
Lance Armstrong claimed he has not doped since 2005

It could be just a coincidence that as we digest the performance of Lance Armstrong — and boy was it a performance — on Oprah, we look on with added interest at the opening stages of the high profile Operation Puerto trial in Madrid of a Spanish doctor accused of accused of masterminding a doping ring in cycling.

Dr Eufemiano Fuentes has admitted in court that he has also treated athletes, footballers, a boxer and tennis players.

Instead of admitting to blood doping, he says he aided their recovery from anaemia. 200 blood bags were found in his possession during a raid seven years ago. They did not have names on, but instead codewords.

Former team-mate Tyler Hamilton, who eventually found the strength to stand up to the Armstrong myth, memorably described Fuentes as, “a one-man Wal-Mart of doping.”

The most worrying factor is not whether more doping than we already know occured in cycling; but that sport has revealed itself to have a black heart that can only be redeemed by the resignation of key figures.

The concern is that among the 200 names on his client list, some footballers from the biggest Spanish clubs were included. And yet they have been granted a pardon by the Spanish government.

Why? What purpose does it serve? In some countries, cheating is almost acceptable practice. It seems that some clubs such as Juventus for example, see punishment for cheating as an occupational hazard.

Now, the World Anti Doping Agency [WADA] has accused Spain’s government of a cover-up. Ask yourself this — what else could it be?

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