Spanish league chief denies doping allegations

MADRID Tue Feb 5, 2013 1:44am IST

Jose Luis Astiazaran (R), President of Spain's Professional Soccer League (LFP), attends a meeting at the headquarters of the LFP in Madrid November 6, 2009. REUTERS/Susana Vera/Files

Jose Luis Astiazaran (R), President of Spain's Professional Soccer League (LFP), attends a meeting at the headquarters of the LFP in Madrid November 6, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Susana Vera/Files

MADRID (Reuters) - The head of Spain's professional soccer league (LFP), Jose Luis Astiazaran, has denied allegations made in As sports daily on Monday that he was complicit in the provision of banned substances to players while president of Real Sociedad.

As published an interview with Inaki Badiola, who had a stint as Sociedad president in 2008, in which he said two club doctors had been given money off the books to buy banned drugs in the six years before he took over and possibly earlier.

The LFP published a lengthy statement from Astiazaran responding to the allegations in which he said he had neither knowledge nor suspicion of illegal practices by medical staff during his time as Sociedad president between 2001 and 2005.

"Real Sociedad has always, and obviously under my presidency, collaborated closely with authorities charged with testing for doping and there has never been any incident in the numerous anti-doping tests taken," Astiazaran said.

"Given the statements and falsities expressed by Mr. Badiola, I reserve the right to begin whatever legal proceedings will be necessary to defend my honour," he added.

Sociedad published a statement of their own later on Monday in which they said that since the current board had taken over in December 2008 there had been no "irregular practices" at the San Sebastian-based club.

They added that they were prepared to collaborate actively with the authorities to get to the root of the allegations and that the club had a "zero tolerance" policy towards doping.

"Real Sociedad reserves the right to any legal action it considers appropriate to reestablish its honour," the statement concluded.

Badiola also made the link between Sociedad and the Operation Puerto trial into doping in cycling, which began in Madrid last week.

The proceedings are being closely watched in Spain and beyond as anti-doping authorities are hopeful it may uncover evidence of illegal drug-taking in other sports.

One of the many code names in documents seized in the Puerto investigation was "RSOC" and Badiola told As the initials likely referred to Sociedad.

The club noted on Monday that judges overseeing the case had not implicated anyone from Sociedad.

Eufemiano Fuentes, the Spanish doctor at the centre of the investigation, declined to answer questions from reporters on Monday about whether "RSOC" referred to Real Sociedad.

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Clare Fallon and Pritha Sarkar)

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