A DOPING gang that has allegedly been operating at the centre of Spain’s cycling world has been busted by police with raids across Andalucia.
Police raided a total of 20 properties in Malaga, Seville, Almeria and Cadiz, as well as in Castellon and Cuidad Real after a several month long investigation into the illegal use of PED’s in Spanish sport.
During the raids, millions of euros of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) were seized, with approximately three million doses ready for sale.
A further 65 kilograms of ingredients were also found, a bounty that could potentially create 38 million further vials.
According to the police report, the main seizures took place in a high tech laboratory in the Cadiz region of Andalucia.
Police state that the facility was used to create PEDs on an ‘industrial scale’ and that over 30 different types of drugs had the capability to be manufactured to be distributed across Spain.
In total, 21 arrests have been made, a huge boost in Spain’s battle against sports doping.
This latest bust follows two similar raids this year, the first in January when six people were arrested for manufacturing and posting EPO (otherwise known as Erythropoietin, a drug used to treat low red blood cells) to athletes worldwide.
The ingredients to fabricate the EPO had been obtained at a dialysis clinic by the gang in Cadiz before being incorrectly stored at a makeshift warehouse.
Then in February, a wholesaler for PEDs was raided in Catalonia resulting in five arrests.
A total of 1.6 million doses, 84,000 tablets and 2,500 bottles of oral and injectable PEDs were found during raids at receiving centres linked to the wholesaler as well as counterfeit growth hormones and anabolic steroids.
Spain’s cycling world has long been overshadowed by the stigma of doping, with the 2013 Operation Puerto being the most high profile.
The operation was created to investigate sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who was charged with supplying 11 top Spanish cyclists with contaminated blood transfusions.
However a long and complicated battle between the Spanish legal system and sports anti-doping agency WADA led to the guilty athletes remaining anonymous and Fuentes’ conviction being overturned, with all evidence being destroyed by the courts.
The case received worldwide criticism and would ultimately lead the government to introduce a crackdown on doping across the country.
In February this year, sports Minister José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes announced that it would be removing the Administrative Court of Sports, the body that overturned the Operation Puerto case, and would be adopting WADA’s standardised guidelines to prevent further cases like Fuentes’.
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