May 23, 2006
Manolo Saiz, Liberty Seguros physician arrested, suspected of doping
There's a report out of Spain that Liberty Seguros DS Manolo Saiz was arrested today in Madrid, along with team doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, in connection to a doping case.
At least three others have reportedly been detained, and the investigation apparently centers on blood boosting, the process of extracting blood for later transfusion to riders, boosting their red cell count to as near the 50 percent UCI hematocrit limit as possible. Saiz formerly led Team ONCE, the Spanish powerhouse.
Jesus Manzano, formerly of Kelme, in 2004 told Spanish daily AS that blood boosting was widespread, and often involved transfusing one rider's blood into another rider. Phonak's Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez have both since been suspended for having traces of another person's blood in samples they provided.
Liberty Seguros lost Roberto Heras to a positive EPO test during last year's Vuelta, and are expected to be led at this year's Tour by Alexandre Vinokourov. No riders have yet been named in the investigation.
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