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Saturday 29, Jun 2013

  Spanish Police Arrest 84 In Doping Crackdown

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Spanish Police Arrest 84 In Doping Crackdown

The Spanish interior ministry has announced that police have arrested 84 people and dismantled two criminal gangs accused of importing and distributing sports doping substances across Spain.

It was further disclosed by the ministry that the raids were conducted over a period of ten months in ten regions of the country, with half the arrests in the country’s three largest cities: Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. In all, the authorities seized about 707,000 doses of anabolic steroids, blood boosters, and growth hormones and these substances were distributed through Spanish private homes and sports centers, according to the ministry statement. The ministry also revealed that one of the involved gangs imported the illegal products from Portugal, and the other imported their substances from Greece and China however the ministry desisted from disclosing the identities of those arrested but said they included a pharmacist.

The Ministry said in a statement that officers have dismantled two organizations importing the products, which can cause severe damage to health. The security forces, in their first operation, arrested 75 people accused of using the postal service to introduce doping drugs from Portugal to then sell on in gyms and private homes in Madrid, Valencia, the Basque Country and Asturias. Forty-seven homes were searched by police seizing more than 24,000 doses. According to estimates by the Spanish police, the organization could have introduced doping substances valued at more than 11,000 euros per day during the first trimester of 2013. The second ring made use of social networks for advertising and luring potential clients and introduced the drugs from China and Greece in postal packs. The Spanish police was able to seize 683,000 doses of steroids, EPO, and growth hormone and arrested nine people.

Spanish lawmakers this month approved a new measure that is intended to counter the doping concerns that have damaged the reputation of different sports in the country. The new measure will expand the range of doping tests and imposes larger fines for those dealing in illegal substances along with creating a more autonomous national anti-doping agency to fight the use of performance enhancing drugs. Many believe that this is a desperate attempt by the country because of Madrid’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics where it is competing with Istanbul and Tokyo, with the host city expected to be chosen in September. This measure is also expected to bring the country in line with the international norms and dispel the impression that Spain is soft on doping.

The country also wants the world to forget the controversial decision of a Spanish judge after she ordered the destruction of seized blood samples in the Operation Puerto doping scandal, a move that was criticized by the World Anti-Doping Agency and eminent sports personalities like Rafael Nadal. The verdict was even criticized by Alejandro Blanco, the president of Spain’s Olympic committee, who remarked the judge’s verdict had been “a mistake and a disaster” for Spanish sports but insisted that the outcome of the investigation should not undermine Madrid’s bid for the 2020 Summer Games.

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Sunday 31, Mar 2013

  Disgraced Cyclist Faces Possible Criminal Case In Spain

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Disgraced Cyclist Faces Possible Criminal Case In Spain

American former professional road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong is being investigated for possible criminal charges in Spain.

According to sources in the United States and Spain, the investigation relates to the doping activities of the disgraced cyclist who was accused by the United States Anti-Doping Agency of enforcing “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

It is believed the crimes may have been committed in Spain, a country often accused of being soft on doping, and they are under investigation to decide if charges should be brought by the winner of the seven consecutive Tour de France titles and Spanish associates who worked with him on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team. The investigation is ongoing in multiple regions of Spain — Alicante, Valencia, Girona, and Tenerife and is described as being in a “very active and sensitive” phase.

The cyclist was a resident of Girona, Spain, for many years during his reign as the Tour de France champion. He lived in Spain with the singer Sheryl Crow in 2004 and his former teammate, Floyd Landis, said during that period he babysat the cyclist’s “blood fridge” in Spain to make sure the temperature remained constant when the Texan rider traveled out of town with the singer.

Spanish laws don’t make it a crime for athletes to use performance enhancing drugs for personal use though they be fined and their licenses may get suspended in some cases. However, the cyclist may get into bigger trouble if investigators can prove trafficking, distribution, and commercialization of doping drugs that carry a prison term of two years and fines of as much as 400,000 euros.

Lance Edward Armstrong had won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005 but was later disqualified from those races and received a lifetime ban from cycling for doping offenses. The cyclist was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 1996 that had spread to his brain and lungs and was declared cancer-free in February 1997 after undergoing cancer treatments including brain and testicular surgery and extensive chemotherapy. The 41-year-old rider was a member of the US Postal/Discovery team between 1998 and 2005 and retired from racing at the end of the 2005 Tour de France, but returned to competitive cycling with the Astana team in January 2009.

In 1992, he began his career as a professional cyclist with the Motorola team and his breakthrough victory was the 1993 UCI Road World Championship held in Norway. Lance Armstrong became the first American to win the La Flèche Wallonne and finished 6th in the time trial and 12th in the road race in the 1996 Olympic Games. The American cyclist announced his retirement from competitive cycling on February 16, 2011, while still facing a US federal investigation into doping allegations. After denying doping allegations for a big part of his career, Lance Armstrong admitted to using drugs throughout his career and said he used EPO, blood transfusions, and testosterone but remarked he stopped doping for his 2009 and 2010 comeback Tour de France rides.

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