A correlation between a document in Eufemiano Fuentes' handwriting and the figures in the concealed accounts at Real Sociedad provided to EL PAÍS indicate that current Professional Football League (LFP) president José Luis Astiazarán could be the "Asti" referred to in the sports medic's records. That in turn suggests, according to documentary evidence uncovered in the Operation Puerto doping investigation, that Fuentes provided his services to Real Sociedad between 2001 and 2005, when Astiazarán was president of the Basque soccer club. The World Anti-Doping Agency is keeping a close eye on developments in the Madrid courthouse where Fuentes and four co-defendants are on trial and is in constant contact with its AEA Spanish counterpart as the evidence unfolds.
Fuentes recorded in January 2002 that "Asti" had paid him 42,070 euros to supply medicines. In the under-the-counter ledger kept by Real and brought to light by former club president Iñaki Badiola when he ordered a club audit by Ernst & Young, is a payment made on December 31, 2001 for the exact same amount. Also on December 31, 2001 the secret account book shows a payment of 12,762.60 euros, justified as scouting fees. In Fuentes' scribbled "Asti account" document, the medic records a salary paid by RSOC of 12,765.34. The small discrepancy in the figures is probably attributable to a conversion from pesetas: the euro came into circulation in January 2002.
So far, other than a statement released on Monday morning denying any knowledge of the matter, Astiazarán has not made any public declaration. This newspaper's attempts to contact the LFP chief have been unsuccessful.
RFEF chief: "just an anecdote within an anecdote"
The aftermath of Iñaki Badiola’s revelations was felt in the Spain camp in Doha, where Vicente del Bosque’s team was preparing for Wednesday evening’s friendly against Uruguay. The Spanish Football Federation did not permit questions when Atlético debutant Mario Suárez and Sevilla captain Álvaro Negredo were interviewed, but Del Bosque spoke to the press, and federation president Ángel María Villar did the same with EL PAÍS.
“Thank God, there is no doping [in Spanish soccer],” Villar said. “Well, very little -- so little that the cases that have come to light are just an anecdote within an anecdote. In Spain, players take a lot of tests every weekend, and nobody has tested positive. This is the reality. Everything else is just talk, talk, talk… Because of an isolated case is all of Spanish football going to be tarred with the same brush? We’re mad. There’s no basis to this.”
Villar declined to comments on Badiola’s claims or the supposed link between Eufemiano Fuentes and LFP chief José Luis Astiazarán.
Del Bosque, in the press room, spoke only of his own experience in Spanish soccer. “I have nothing to say about doping. I have spent my life in soccer and I have never seen anything to make me suspicious. I prefer to be naïve and believe that it doesn’t exist, because I have never seen any evidence of it and I don’t think I ever will.”
Spain's CSD Higher Sports Council has said that at present there is not enough evidence to investigate Astiazarán's alleged use of Fuentes' services in the purchase of, according to Badiola, thousands of euros' worth of drugs imported from Germany and Australia. CSD sources explained that the body will wait until the Puerto trial ends and decide on any action based on the content of the judge's report.
But before the culmination of the trial, which is expected to last well into April, Astiazarán faces a trial at the polls. The LFP, which groups together all the presidents of clubs in the first and second divisions, is to hold elections within two months to choose a new leader. The shadow of Puerto may lead to a few other names being cast into the hat, although so far no potential candidate to unseat Astiazarán has publicly launched a challenge.
While the AEA considers that there are clear indications of an alleged crime against public health in the illegal importation of drugs that are banned in Spain, the fact that some such as Thioctacid and Thym-Uvocal are not included on the list of prohibited substances precludes possible action by WADA. The case of Actovegin, a calf blood extract that improves oxygen levels in tissue, is also complicated as is its inclusion on the banned list is the subject of constant debate.
Only one product supposedly supplied to Real Sociedad by Fuentes is prohibited, the undetectable growth hormone IGF-1. The difficulty in pursuing any investigation into Real Sociedad is that no player has ever tested positive for banned substances, and the paper trail is almost impossible to piece together as the transactions were made in black money.