Andy Murray last night hit out at a Spanish judge who ordered evidence relating to one of the biggest doping rings in history to be destroyed.
Britain’s No 1 tennis player called the decision to dump more than 200 blood bags from stars in a number of sports as ‘the biggest cover-up in sports history’ and said it was a ‘joke’.
Earlier, Madrid judge Julia Santamaria ruled that the 211 blood bags from 35 people taken as part of the seven-year Operation Puerto investigation into Dr Eufemiano Fuentes could not be analysed by anti-doping authorities but must be discarded.
It now remains to be seen whether Fuentes, who was handed a suspended one-year jail term and banned from practising sports medicine for four years, will reveal the full extent of his operation, which he confessed went beyond cycling and into tennis, athletics and football.
Murray tweeted last night: ‘operacion puerto case is beyond a joke... biggest cover up in sports history? why would court order blood bags to be destroyed? #coverup’
Fuentes’s sentence is relatively lenient because when police seized the anabolic steroids and blood in 2006, doping was not illegal in Spain. He was instead tried for violations of public health regulations. The World Anti-Doping Agency remain hopeful that the Spanish anti-doping bodies will be able to appeal against the ruling to destroy all the evidence.
The decision was also criticised by Andy Parkinson, chief executive of UK Anti-Doping, who said: ‘We are disappointed. Dr Fuentes has admitted to having been involved in multiple prohibited doping activities, and linked with multiple unnamed athletes.
‘It therefore cannot be right that these names will remain unknown and no immediate action can be taken.’ The court also sentenced former cycling team official Ignacio Labarta to four months in jail, and acquitted three others, including Fuentes’s sister Yolanda. Tyler Hamilton, who played a key role in Lance Armstrong's demise, spoke at the case.