Spanish prosecutors have now revealed that they have in fact located the 51 missing blood bars confiscated during the Operacion Puerto.
In a Wednesday morning call,UCI president Patrick McQuaid admitted that he himself had the blood bags stored at his house.
“I stand by my record in the fight against doping. I’m personally involved and I fight every single day. The bags were in my garage refrigerator because I wanted them in a safe place,” said McQuaid.
Barcelona’s Anti-Doping Lab director Jordi Segura has confirmed that 173 blood bags taken by police are still at his lab. Now, with the other 51 bags accounted for at McQuaid’s house, all 224 blood bags sized from Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes are available for examination.
However, it remains unclear how and why the president of the UCI came into possession of the Puerto evidence. “Barcelona was out of refrigeration so I did what needed to be done,” said McQuaid. I take the fight against doping very seriously. Ask WADA, ask Tygart, my record speaks for itself. I was very careful about stacking the blood bags. There was some beer in there but I took it out.”
Anti-doping expert Michael Ashenden, a frequent critic of the UCI’s anti-doping efforts, was appalled. “It’s not scientific protocol, it’s not lab procedure, it’s just plain shocking and bizarre,” said Ashenden. “What was he planning on doing with the blood bags — make Bloody Marys?”
However, McQuaid fired back at Ashenden in a hastily organized press conference at the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland. “It’s my job to protect the sport. Who would you rather have looking after the blood bags than the president?” said McQuaid. “I was going to ask Verbruggan to use his fridge but it’s my job, my responsibility. You can’t trust the Spanish. I know that — I’ve always known that.”
Frequently at odds with McQuaid, the president of WADA, John Fibey, took a dim view of the news. “He’s lost his mind, anyone can see that. He’s like some mad old king with blood in the fridge. I hope the Olympics remove cycling because it’s turned into a bad joke,” said Fibey.
In an ironic twist to the story, Spanish authorities at first believed that both the 51 blood bags and missing Puerto witness Angel Vicioso were both in McQuaid’s garage. “There was some confusion and Mr. McQuaid’s Spanish is not skilled. We thought he also said he had Angel,” said Miguel Nevarro, a lawyer involved in the investigation.
For his part, McQuaid strenuously denies that Vicioso, a former member of the 2006 Liberty Seguros squad, was in fact he;d or given refuge at his house. “There’s a process, we’re following the process. The blood is safe and Vicioso is not here — he never was. I cleaned up the garage just last week. I would have noticed it he was there,” said McQuaid.