Top figures in cycling arrested in doping scandal

24th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

24 May 2006, MADRID — Police have arrested five top figures in the world of Spanish cycling in an anti-doping operation, authorities said.

24 May 2006

MADRID — Police have arrested five top figures in the world of Spanish cycling in an anti-doping operation, authorities said.

Among those detained was the manager of the Liberty Insurance cycling team, Manuel Saiz.

Sports medicine expert Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, professional cyclist Alberto Leon, assistant director of the Valencian Community cycling team Jose Ignacio Labarta, and Jose Luis Merino, head of a clinical analysis laboratory.

Three of the arrests - those of Saiz, Fuentes and Merino - took place in Madrid, while Labarta was taken into custody in Zaragoza, and Leon, a professional mountain-bike racer, was arrested in El Escorial, near Madrid.

The Civil Guard has searched Merino's laboratory and raided five homes, of which two are apartments linked to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.

The operation was part of an ongoing investigation into alleged crimes against public health.

At the moment it is unknown how many sports figures might be implicated in these doping practices.

After the last Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) cycling race, Liberty team leader Roberto Heras tested positive for doping and was stripped of what would have been his fourth Spanish cycling championship.

Fuentes, on the other hand, has faced claims of doping during a long career as the medical practitioner for a number of cycling teams.

In one of the apartments linked to the doctor during Tuesday's raids, the Civil Guard seized a thousand doses of steroids and hormones, as well as a hundred bags of blood, products to manipulate it, machines to freeze it and paraphernalia for giving transfusions.

The "self-transfusion" is a doping practice which consists of extracting blood during training runs high in the mountains, freezing it and re-injecting it before starting a race.

This supposedly pumps up the level of a key blood element artificially and boosts athletic performance.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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