There’s an internationally syndicated television program made in the United States called “Judge Judy.” For those who aren’t aware, it covers real-life cases, presided over by the fully qualified lady in question. Judge Judy uses basic common sense to hand down sensible, reasoned decisions for the benefit of the television cameras and the poor dribbling morons that watch it (my apologies and commiserations if you are one of those).
Well, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to someone who makes Judge Judy look like the real deal. Another real-life lady who has courted her own publicity by effectively overseeing the biggest cover-up in sports history.
Welcome to the world of Judge Julia.
This week in Madrid, Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes was found guilty of endangering public health by giving blood transfusions to elite cyclists. The evidence included additional samples, with more than 200 bags of unidentified blood and plasma seized from the doctor’s clinic. These bags potentially hold the identity of athletes from across many sports who have used doping to improve their performance but whose guilty secret currently remains hidden in the DNA. They are gold dust to the anti-doping authorities in their fight against illegal – and dangerous – practices.
But, Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria ordered them to be destroyed.
One of the biggest ever hauls of evidence – if not the biggest – and Judge Julia wants to chuck it down the drain.
During the trial, Fuentes openly admitted that his list of clients included footballers, tennis players, athletes and boxers, but so far it’s only cyclists who’ve been directly implicated. He offered to put names to the coded bags that were in evidence during the trial, but Judge Julia told him not to bother. No wonder organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Spain’s Anti-Doping Agency (AEA) want to get their hands on them. After years of legwork, a judge in an internationally relevant trial has prevented them from receiving crucial information that could help make monumental advances in their work against the drug cheats.
During the trial, WADA made a request to analyze the bags, but Judge Julia denied them – and then came up with her outrageous destruction order. At the time of writing, WADA is considering its options while AEA has launched an appeal. Supposedly, the bags are being held safely in Barcelona until their fate is ultimately secured.
How on earth can WADA, which is funded by International Federations and world Governments, be expected to work efficiently and prudently when there are people such as Judge Julia around? It’s not just about identifying the dopers, it’s also a chance to see what else people may have been taking. A genuine opportunity to improve the knowledge bank via the blood bank.
Spain’s reputation for being soft on sports doping has been reaffirmed and a legal process that dictates that all jail sentences under two years for first time offenders should be suspended, is hardly a message of unity. At least Fuentes was struck off – but only for four years. It doesn’t exactly reflect a huge deterrent to others does it?
That is why the availability of those blood bags for the authorities to analyze was massively important. Judge Julia had a chance to show Spain in a positive light in the fight against doping, but instead she’s crucified its reputation with her final order.
Sports stars have had their say. Paula Radcliffe said it made her “mad” and she felt like turning up on the doorstep. Andy Murray said the whole thing was a joke. It is.
It’s to be hoped that Judge Julia’s ruling is overturned on appeal and the valuable evidence is finally handed over. It shouldn’t have been an issue, and in this doping scandal, there is ultimately only one dope.
And she was the judge…
Jaimie Fuller is the chairman of Skins and the founder of pressure group Change Cycling Now, whose members include Greg LeMond, Paul Kimmage and David Walsh. To follow him on Twitter click here. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.