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Spanish courts to hear nine appeals in Puerto case

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain (VN) — The doping scandal that just keeps giving, Operación Puerto still has legs.

Court officials in Madrid confirmed Wednesday that there are no less than nine appeals to the two-month trial that ended in April with Puerto ringleader Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes landing a one-year sentence.

Officials said a Madrid appeals court would hear the appeals. There was no indication of how long or when that might occur, but with the slow hands of Spanish justice, it could drag on for months.

Among those appealing were defendants Fuentes and former Kelme sport director José Ignacio Labarta, who was condemned to four months in jail.

Others appealing were the Spanish prosecutors office, the state’s attorney’s office, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Spanish cycling federation, a lawyer representing former rider Jesus Manzano, and cycling’s world governing body, the UCI.

One major point of contention among the prosecutors was the ruling judge’s decision to destroy up to 200 bags of plasma and blood that were confiscated in the May 2006 police raids.

WADA, the UCI, and others want to have access to the blood bags to try to link them to other possible Fuentes clients.

The Puerto trial ran from late January through early April, with a parade of former Fuentes clients outlining the macabre details of the international blood doping ring. Among those testifying were Tyler Hamilton and Jörg Jaksche.

Fuentes and Labarta were the only defendants found guilty. Ex-Kelme sport director Vicente Belda, ex-Once boss Manolo Saiz, and Fuentes’ sister, Yolanda, were found not guilty of charges of endangering public health.