Spain's sports authorities have vowed to maintain their campaign to end the country's reputation for widespread doping as the long-awaited Operation Puerto trial reaches its midway point.
We hope along with the rest of the sports world that the conclusions that come out of the trial serve to clear up and investigate the indications of past doping.
Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes and four other defendants are facing charges that they endangered the health of cyclists by allegedly helping them to cheat through blood transfusions. But anti-doping watchdogs are also interested in the large amounts of evidence not being presented at Madrid's Criminal Court.
Spain's anti-doping agency says it will follow the World Anti-Doping Agency's lead by also requesting that the court finally hand over the more than 200 blood bags discovered in police raids in 2006 so they can be analyzed and help identify athletes who doped.
"When the trial finishes, this is not over. We will go to work," Ana Munoz, the head of Spain's anti-doping agency, told The Associated Press. "I am very aware of the doubts that exist abroad about Spain's anti-doping fight. I spend 80 percent of my time trying to change this image, not just with words, but with acts."
The Spanish agency has to wait until the trial is over to request the evidence since it was founded in 2008, after the police investigation began.
For years Spanish courts have denied WADA access to this evidence that could possibly open a floodgate of doping suspensions and reveal to what extent doping practices have spread beyond cycling and into other sports.
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), one of the trial's other plaintiffs, was the only sports body able to get access to some samples, leading to doping bans for Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde and Italian cyclist Ivan Basso. The other 50 cyclists implicated, including two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, have never been punished.
The trial is limited to the health risks involved in blood transfusions because doping was not illegal when the police began their investigations in the operation that Fuentes supposedly masterminded. Spain has since strengthened its laws and an even tougher anti-doping law is working its way through parliament.
The decision now resting in the hands of presiding judge Julia Santamaria on whether or not to release the massive hold of evidence to WADA and its Spanish counterpart could go a long way to improving Spain's image as a country that is lax on fighting the use of performance-enhancing drugs and procedures.
Any refusal would be a huge blow to Spain and Madrid in particular as it seeks the right to host the 2020 Olympic Games, in the hope of providing a boost to the country's weakened morale and slumping economy.
WADA president John Fahey said earlier this week that if the bags were not released a "monumental cloud" of doubt would remain over "hundreds of athletes in Spain."
The president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco, shares WADA's concern.
"We hope along with the rest of the sports world that the conclusions that come out of the trial serve to clear up and investigate the indications of past doping," Blanco said.
"I believe in the independence of the Spanish justice system. Above all we will respect the judge's decision."