Samaranch jnr criticises judge of Operacion Puerto

May 15th, 2009 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sebastian Fest
Madrid, May 15 (DPA) Sheer stupidity: that is how Juan Antonio Samaranch jr. describes how the Spanish Judiciary is dealing with the Operacion Puerto doping case, which could become a threat to Madrid’s aspirations of hosting the 2016 Olympics.

“In Spain there are three powers, and the Judiciary has done a really stupid thing in keeping the issue of Operacion Puerto secret and preventing it from being used,” Samaranch told DPA in an interview.

Several Spanish sportsmen, particularly cyclists, are under suspicion in the wake of Operacion Puerto, a police investigation on a doping network around the Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

Samaranch - the only Spanish member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the son of IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch (1980-2001) - said he is tired of how judge Antonio Serrano’s decisions contribute to cast doubt on Spanish sport.

“I don’t understand it, I really don’t understand it! Take all those bags, turn the lights on and call the typists, and get all the dirty laundry out onto the street!” he said angrily.

Madrid is competing with Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo in an effort to be picked as the host of the 2016 Olympics by the IOC, Oct 2 in Copenhagen.

On Monday, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) banned Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde from competing in Italy for two years. Italian authorities accuse Valverde of having been Fuentes’ client. He has never tested positive, but CONI accuse him of having “taken doping or having tried to” with Fuentes’ assistance.

The case is extremely complex, and Samaranch is very annoyed with Judge Serrano for preventing use of any evidence from Operacion Puerto until the end of the ongoing investigation in Spain.

Italy’s sports authorities still managed to obtain - while Serrano was taking time off - a bag of blood allegedly belonging to Valverde. The cyclist’s lawyers have filed a formal complaint against CONI prosecutor Etorre Torri for “disobedience to Spanish authorities.”

Samaranch believes Operacion Puerto can do some damage to Madrid’s Olympic bid, and he stresses that both he and Spain’s Secretary of State for Sport Jaime Lissavetzky have to explain to their colleagues time and again that the whole issue “is in the hands of a judge.” And he thinks they understand.

“The fact that all European governments have chosen Jaime and Spain to represent them is a very clear signal,” Samaranch stressed.

Lissavetzky is a member of the executive board of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), as a representative of the 49 European governments.

“WADA is one of the best ideas that the Olympic world has had in a great many years, because trying to combat cheats exclusively from sport is most difficult, we had to form an alliance with governments,” Samaranch said.

However, as vice-president of the International Union of Modern Pentathlon, he has also clashed with WADA.

“Some decisions that WADA makes seem to me to be incomprehensible, unacceptable. Sportsmen are people who are mostly healthy, great, who live positively. Criminalizing them to the extreme that they have to say at all times and seconds in their lives who they are with and where they are… it seems to me that there has to be some middle ground.”

The whereabouts rule, whereby athletes have to report where they can be found for testing for an hour a day everyday in the year, is part of the world anti-doping code that was approved in Madrid in November 2007 and which went into force on January 1 this year.

Samaranch admits that sports federations did not realise the impact of this issue, which has prompted discussions with the European Union and an active opposition from football governing body FIFA.

“The federations must have missed it, or it must have seemed like a good idea on paper at the time. But its practical application is unacceptable. FIFA has opened a way.”

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