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Doctor at centre of doping probe defends his methods

Written by: Staff
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MADRID, July 6 (Reuters) The doctor at the centre of the Spanish doping investigation has defended himself by saying that the objective of the treatment he administered to sportsmen was to safeguard their health.

Eufemiano Fuentes was held for questioning after police found large quantities of anabolic steroids, laboratory equipment used for blood transfusions and more than 100 bags of frozen blood when they raided a number of addresses in Madrid and Zaragoza in May.

Doping is not a criminal offence in Spain, but Fuentes has been accused of offences against public health and is expected to be put on trial later this month.

Fuentes said his treatment could not be classed as doping and made it clear that he would be basing his defence on the claim that his practices did not endanger the health of his clients.

''I'm a doctor and I want to protect the health of my clients and not damage it,'' Fuentes told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser today.

''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.

''Sportsmen not only come to me to administer treatment but to make checks on their body.'' OTHER SPORTSMEN Fuentes also reiterated that his clients included sportsmen other than cyclists.

''Cycling is not the only sport where substances are taken to improve performance,'' he said.

''The impression has been given that cycling has a monopoly on this type of activity, but it is not true.

''I have designed training programmes for football clubs for the season. 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.'' Although Fuentes said he used blood extraction techniques, he said he did not administer banned substances to his clients and said that the quantities of the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO) that were found in the raids were for family use.

He refused to provide the names of any of his clients, saying that his professional oath of secrecy prevented him from revealing their identity, but said the police report included some sportsmen he had never even heard of.

The report included the names of over 50 professional cyclists and prompted several teams to withdraw leading riders from this year's Tour de France, including pre-race favourites Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Francisco Mancebo.

REUTERS PM RS1327

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