I paid US$40,000 yearly for drugs: US cyclist Hamilton
By Harold Heckle ,APMADRID -- Disgraced former U.S. cyclist Tyler Hamilton told a Spanish court Tuesday he paid tens of thousands of euros a year to the doctor at the heart of the Operation Puerto scandal for blood doping and other drug supply services to boost his performance in competition.
February 21, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
Hamilton told Judge Julia Santamaria via video link that he used blood doping some 15 times and had also bought the blood booster EPO, testosterone, growth hormone and insulin off defendant Eufemiano Fuentes.
Fuentes, his sister and fellow doctor, Yolanda; Manolo Saiz, a former ONCE and Liberty Seguros team sports director; and Vicente Belda and Ignacio Labarta, both associated with the former Kelme team, are on trial for endangering public health.
Hamilton said he paid between 25,000 and 30,000 euros for the services in 2002 and 2003. He then agreed to pay 50,000 euros for 2004, but was not able to complete the treatment because he tested positive for receiving someone else's blood in September 2004.
Hamilton was stripped of his gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics last year after confessing to doping.
Meanwhile, the judge announced that two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, one of 50 cyclists implicated in the Puerto investigation, would not be required to appear in court.
Ignacio Arroyo, the attorney for defendant Saiz, said at the end of Tuesday's hearing that he renounced the witness statement he had requested from Contador. Santamaria then ruled that as Arroyo had been the only trial participant to request testimony from Contador, the rider's presence would no longer be necessary.
Hamilton, a former professional rider for the U.S. Postal and CSC teams, among others, said he had first met Fuentes at a rest area “on the highway between Barcelona and Valencia” in Spain “to fix up blood transfusions” and “to plan for the future.”
Blood doping is a high-technology technique that extracts blood from a rider, separates red cells from the plasma they normally float in, and then re-injects the oxygen-carrying cells back into a rider just before a boost in performance is required.
“The worst reaction I had was 2004 when I had a reinfusion during the Tour de France and as far as I could tell the blood hadn't been stored properly,” Hamilton told the court. He said he knew something was not working out as it should when he went to the bathroom “35-40 minutes later and my urine was black.”