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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Cycling News Flash for May 23, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Saiz arrested on doping charges

The Spanish civil guard has arrested Liberty Seguros manager Manolo Saiz and four others on doping charges. Besides Saiz, the former doctor of Kelme, Eufemiano Fuentes Rodríguez; José Luis Merino, the responsible at an analytical laboratory in Madrid; Alberto León, a professional mountain bike racer; and José Ignacio Labarta, the assistant sports director of Comunidad Valenciana, were all arrested.

According to Europa Press, Fuentes is accused of doping riders and then 'cleaning' their blood, so that they did not test positive. Fuentes has been under suspicion of doping practices in the past. Manolo Saiz's team lost the 2005 Vuelta a España after captain Roberto Heras tested positive for EPO in the second last stage. Liberty Seguros has neither confirmed nor denied that Saiz has been detained by police.

Also under investigation is the illegal practice of auto-transfusing blood to riders during stage races, which is one of the most difficult doping practices to detect, as it uses the rider's own blood.

The arrests were carried out in the framework of an anti-doping investigation performed by the Unidad Centro Operativo (UCO) in Madrid. It will go to court on May 31.

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