‘Operation Puerto’ doping trial opens in Spain

Updated 29 January 2013
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‘Operation Puerto’ doping trial opens in Spain

MADRID: A doctor accused of masterminding a vast doping network that snared dozens of cyclists went on trial in Spain on Monday along with four alleged conspirators.
Trial witnesses include Alberto Contador, the Tour de France winner in 2007 and 2009, who returned to competition last year after a two-year ban for a separate case in which he denied doping.
The trial in Madrid will do little to boost the credentials of a sport reeling from US rider Lance Armstrong’s admission that he doped his way to a record seven Tour de France wins.
Police busted the Spanish network in 2006 when they seized 200 bags of blood and other evidence of performance-enhancing transfusions, in an investigation dubbed “Operation Puerto.”
Among the five defendants facing charges of an “offense against public health,” the most prominent is the suspected mastermind of the network, 57-year-old doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.
Investigators listed 58 cyclists suspected in the scandal. Fuentes told Le Monde newspaper he had provided services to others such as tennis players and footballers but later retracted that claim.
Of the 58, six have received sporting sanctions: Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde, Germans Jan Ullrich and Joerg Jaksche and Italians Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi and Giampaolo Caruso, who was later acquitted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Fuentes’s lawyer Julian Perez-Templado told AFP after Monday’s hearing that the doctor would not reveal any more names of people for whom he carried out transfusions.
The other four defendants in the trial are the doctor’s sister Yolanda; former Liberty Seguros cycling team director Manolo Saiz; former Comunitat Valencia team chief Vicente Belda and his deputy, Jose Ignacio Labarta.
Fuentes, in a dark suit and blue tie, and the other four defendants were swarmed by reporters as they arrived at the Madrid court for the start of the hearing, but made no comment.
Perez-Templado said Monday’s hearing dealt with procedural matters and certain demands by civil parties in the case. Judge Maria Santamaria adjourned the trial until Tuesday morning, when Fuentes was due to be the first to testify.
The defendants are charged with endangering public health rather than incitement to doping, which was not a crime at the time of the arrests. A Spanish anti-doping law was passed only in November 2006.
The prosecutor, seeking a two-year prison sentence plus a two-year professional ban for the accused, will have to show that the blood transfusions put the riders’ health at risk.
Fuentes has denied that charge but witnesses such as former cyclist Jesus Manzano, scheduled to testify on February 11, will try to refute his claims.
Since 2004 Manzano, a former rider on Spanish team Kelme of which Fuentes was the head doctor, has alleged generalized doping in the team and says he himself underwent transfusions of adulterated blood.


Rockets outlast Warriors 98-94, edge closer to NBA Finals

Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets goes up against Quinn Cook #4 of the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter of Game Five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 24, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 25 May 2018
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Rockets outlast Warriors 98-94, edge closer to NBA Finals

  • The Rockets head into Game 6 on Saturday night in Oakland one win away from knocking off the defending champions and advancing to the NBA Finals.
  • After Game 6 on Saturday, the Rockets would host Game 7 on Monday if necessary.

HOUSTON, Texas: Eric Gordon came off the bench to score 24 points and his steal on Golden State’s last possession secured a 98-94 victory Thursday night that gave the Houston Rockets a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.
The Rockets head into Game 6 on Saturday night in Oakland one win away from knocking off the defending champions and advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 1994-95.
Chris Paul scored 20 points and James Harden struggled for his 19, but Paul had to leave the game in the final minute with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Kevin Durant scored 29 points for the Warriors, who lost in Game 5 of a playoff series for just the second time since 2015.
The Rockets won a second straight defensive struggle between the two potent offenses, leaving the Warriors a loss from missing the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014.
“We had to rely on our defense once again,” Harden said. “Game 4, we weren’t making shots but defensively we were really good. Same thing tonight.”
Draymond Green made a 3-pointer with just over minute left to get Golden State within one. Harden, who was 0 for 11 on 3s, missed his last one with less than 30 seconds left, giving the Warriors the ball back.
Stephen Curry missed a floater and Trevor Ariza grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 10 seconds left. But he made just one of two free throws to give the Warriors another chance.
But Gordon came up with his steal when Green lost control in the lane and added two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to put it away.
Klay Thompson shook off a knee injury that had his status for this game in question to score 23 points and Curry added 22. A bruised left knee kept Andre Iguodala out for the second straight game, and Kevon Looney started in his place.
After losing Game 1 of the series, the Rockets made the best of home-court advantage this time, thrilling a sellout crowd that included Justin Timberlake, Houston Texans star J.J. Watt and rapper Travis Scott.
It’s Houston’s second straight win in the series after snapping Golden State’s NBA playoff-record, 16-game home winning streak with a 95-92 victory on Tuesday night.
Golden State led by one to start the fourth before Paul got going, scoring seven points to power a 10-5 run that gave the Rockets an 81-77 lead with about 9 1/2 minutes left.
Thompson made a 3-pointer after that and then officials reviewed Paul’s first basket of the quarter and ruled he got it off after the shot clock expired, leaving the Warriors ahead 80-79.
The Rockets were clinging to a one-point lead with about seven minutes left when Durant fouled Gordon on a 3-point attempt, losing one of his shoes in the process. Gordon made all three free throws to start a 7-2 spurt that extended the lead to 88-82 midway through the quarter.
The Rockets honored the 10 people killed in last week’s school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, before the game, with the school’s choir singing the national anthem and team owner Tilman Fertitta wearing a “Santa Fe Strong” T-shirt, before Houston scored the game’s first six points in a first half where the team led by as many as 11.

TIP-INS
Warriors: Coach Steve Kerr was unsure Thursday if Iguodala would be able to return for Game 6. “He’s dying to play, but he’s not healthy enough,” Kerr said. “We’ll just continue to take it day to day..”.. Curry made four free throws to tie Rick Barry for most free throws made in the playoffs in franchise history with 378. ... Golden State had 18 turnovers.
Rockets: Clint Capela had 12 points and 14 rebounds for his seventh double-double this postseason. ... Houston made 13 of 43 3-pointers, led by four from Gordon.

UP NEXT
After Game 6 on Saturday, the Rockets would host Game 7 on Monday if necessary.