The secretary of state for sport, Miguel Cardenal, has had a trying first year at the head of the department. It started with the controversy over the satirical sketches of Spanish sports stars broadcast on the Canal + France show Les Guignols de l’info in the wake of Alberto Contador’s ban from cycling, moved painfully through a summer of limited success across the sporting sphere, and has now ended with the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency (AEA)’s laboratory being shut down for three months.
The decision was made by the World Anti-Doping Agency after the AEA committed an error in a routine test. The closure came into force on December 21. At the same time, the Spanish Supreme Court quashed Roberto Heras’s sanction for doping in 2005 and reinstated him as winner of the Vuelta that year in the first ruling of its kind. Under normal circumstances, an athlete must at least appeal such cases at the CAS tribunal in Switzerland.
All of this has come at the worst possible time for Madrid, which in a few weeks welcomes the International Olympic Committee inspection team to the capital. However, the Heras case indicates a certain delay in the forming of a sweeping new anti-doping law, which was agreed with WADA as a way to convince the IOC that Spain is taking the fight against doping seriously.
And to cap it all, the Operation Puerto doping trial is finally due to begin at the same time the IOC evaluation committee is in Madrid.