Cycling: World cycling chief McQuaid slams ruling in Spain doping case

MADRID (AFP) - International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid has sharply criticised a Spanish court's decision to destroy bags of blood seized in a major doping case.

In an interview with sports daily Marca published Friday, the cycling chief said he disagreed with Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria's ruling in one of the sporting world's biggest doping scandals.

Last month, the judge sentenced Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes to a year in prison for endangering public health for his role in performing blood extractions and transfusions on high profile cyclists.

But she refused to give anti-doping bodies access to the 211 blood bags seized in 2006 in police raids on Fuentes' properties as part of the so-called "Operation Puerto" investigation.

Instead, the judge ordered that the bags of blood, which could identify other sportspeople implicated in the scandal, be destroyed once any appeals have been exhausted.

"I couldn't disagree more, and that's why we have appealed," McQuaid told the paper.

"The Spanish anti-doping authorities have to get to the bottom of exactly who were the owners of the bags, so that we can get rid of the cheats," he added.

Asked what would happen if the blood bags were, indeed, destroyed, McQuaid said: "Then it will be a defeat for the fight against doping."

The destruction of the blood is under appeal by the ICU, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Italian National Olympic Committee and Spanish prosecutors.