Tyler Hamilton claimed on Tuesday he was given performance enhancing drugs as well as blood transfusions by Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. Doctor Fuentes is the principal accused in the “Operacion Puerto” trial examining whether the blood transfusions he carried out on a number of high-profile cyclists endangered public health. Hamilton though claims he not only received numerous blood transfusions from Fuentes but was also provided with the blood-booster EPO, testosterone, insulin and human growth hormone (HGH).
“I was a patient of Doctor Fuentes from 2002-2004,” he told the court. In our first meeting we planned transfusions and medical treatments for the future. He gave me a calendar with the races and with the dates that I should take the substances and he gave me EPO. The calendar was circled with when I should take the EPO and the color of the circle indicated the amount. The consumption of HGH, testosterone and insulin were also indicated on the calendar.”
“I didn’t follow the instructions on HGH very much and I only took insulin one time because I didn’t like how I felt when I took it. I sweated a lot and my heart rate increased.”
The American, who twice tested positive during his career in 2004 and 2009, also claims to have felt ill after receiving a blood transfusion in 2004.
“The worst I felt with a transfusion was in the 2004 Tour de France. I think the blood had gone off or had not been handled well,” said Hamilton, who confirmed he had first been put in touch with Fuentes by then CSC team manager and a former Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis when he rode for the team from 2002-03. Within 35 or 40 minutes of the transfusion I went to the bathroom and my urine was black.”
Hamilton said he ended his relationship with Fuentes just months after that experience when he tested positive in the 2004 Tour of Spain due to traces of someone else’s blood being found in his system.
“When I tested positive at the 2004 Tour of Spain they said I had blood from another person in my system. My teammate Santi Perez, who was second in that Vuelta, also tested positive for the same reason as me. Perez was also a patient of Fuentes and we travelled together to carry out a transfusion in June 2004.”
Hamilton also confirmed that he had received blood transfusions from other people, including one from former Spanish cyclist Alberto Leon, who had no medical training, carried out during the 2002 Tour de France. Hamilton, 42, has become one of the most pivotal first hand witnessess about the doping culture in the peloton in recent months having provided crucial evidence against Lance Armstrong.
Hamilton rode alongside Armstrong in the US Postal Service team in the late 1990s and testified against him in the investigation that led to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year. Earlier in the day Fernando Gutierrez Ortega, head of the Spanish center of sports medicine said he did not agree with Fuentes’ defense that the transfusions were to keep his patients haematocrit level stable.
“The transfusion of a bag of blood, for me, does not have a medicinal purpose. It is designed to increase the training load and physical performance, not to cure an athlete. “An athlete that detects a low haematocrit level should for me be instructed to rest and treated with licit means such as iron and folic acid, not with a transfusion which, by definition, carries risks.”
Fuentes denies the charge of endangering public health.