Spanish police detain 14 in anti-doping raids

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2010, 09:20 AM IST

Madrid: The Spanish civil guard have taken 14 people in for questioning around the country as part of an anti-doping operation known as ‘Greyhound’, the government said on Thursday.

Sports doctors, pharmacists, trainers, coaches, representatives and sportspeople were among those detained, suspected of crimes against public health, the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement.

Only the initials and location were given of the people who had been held.

Spanish media reported that the initials MD, which the government statement said referred to a female athlete from Palencia suspected of supplying doping substances, was world steeplechase champion Marta Dominguez.

Spanish television showed images of police taking items from what they said was Dominguez’s home earlier in the day.

Neither Dominguez nor her representatives could be contacted for a comment.

Up to 15 addresses in Madrid, Las Palmas, Alicante, Segovia and Palencia were raided and police found anabolic steroids, bags of blood, hormones, EPO and laboratory equipment used for carrying out blood transfusions.

Operation Puerto

The civil guard said the operation began back in April when they became aware of a group of people who appeared to be helping sports people at the highest level to use drugs.

Among those detained were persons implicated in the 2006 Operation Puerto anti-doping probe which rocked the world of cycling.

The initials EF of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, a sports doctor, was linked in the Spanish media to Eufemiano Fuentes.

Fuentes, the former sporting director of the now defunct Liberty Seguros cycling team, was questioned during the Operation Puerto case.

EF and two others were monitored, the civil guard said in their statement.

“The three people mentioned, after receiving the competition calendars for certain sports people, drew up doping plans for them, treating them occasionally with doping products such as EPO, anabolic steroids, and others, doing transfusions of blood recycled from the same sportsperson.”

Presumed Innocent

The Spanish athletics federation (RFEA) and the government sports council (CSD) said they had no information about the operation when contacted by telephone, earlier in the day.

The RFEA released a statement in which they said all their elite athletes had passed numerous doping tests over the past year and they had always cooperated with the authorities in the fight against drug cheats.

“One must always respect the presumption of innocence until guilt is definitively proven,” the statement said.

“If that happens, the RFEA will punish according to the existing rules anyone who has cheated in their preparation for or participation in competition.”

Spanish sport has been hit by a number of high-profile doping scandals in recent years.

Tour de France champion Alberto Contador is waiting to hear if he will be stripped of his title and banned from cycling after testing positive for a banned substance during this year’s race.

Spain’s European steeplechase bronze medallist, Jose Luis Blanco, last month denied doping after the RFEA opened an investigation into a failed test.

Bureau Report