Fuentes denies any links with Real Madrid

December 18, 2006

MADRID, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The doctor at the centre of a Spanish investigation into doping has issued a statement denying that he has ever worked with nine-times European champions Real Madrid or any of their players.

Eufemiano Fuentes was responding to a report in French daily Le Monde earlier this month that he had worked with the club on the physical preparation of their players.

Real said Le Monde had contacted them saying they would publish a retraction of the article in the next few days.

"I want to clarify that neither in the interview that I gave to the journalist Stephane Mandard, of which I possess a taped copy, nor in any conversation with him or any other journalist have I ever suggested that I had any professional relationship with Real Madrid or its players," Fuentes said in a statement on the Real website.

Fuentes issued an almost identical statement on the Real Betis Web site last week.

Le Monde said it had accessed documents suggesting that Fuentes had been involved in the physical preparation, including possible use of illegal substances, of Primera Liga clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia and Betis.

All four teams have denied the existence of any such relationship, while Barcelona and Real Madrid have said they will take legal action against Le Monde.

Fuentes, who has collaborated with several cycling teams, has been accused of offences against public health after raids on addresses in Spain in May found large quantities of anabolic steroids, laboratory equipment used for blood transfusions and more than 100 bags of frozen blood.