May 24, 2006
Saiz released, Spain pledges doping crackdown
Manolo Saiz has been released, but will likely be called before a judge during the investigation, Eurosport reported today. EFE reports that Saiz is suspected of being a client of the doping group, not an organizer (ProCycling story in English | AS story en Español). El Pais also reports that 200 bags of blood were found in the raid, and that investigators had pictures of former ONCE doctor Eufemiano Fuentes handing off doping supplies to Saiz.
Fuentes remains in custody in the case, as do Ignacio Laberta, assistant director of the Comunidad Valenciana team, former mountain biker Alberto León, and hematologist and lab owner Jose Luis Merino.
Apparently, the group had been under surveillance for 4 months or more, and investigators are reportedly looking through images to identify athletes who have visited the clinic, after which they'll try to match athletes to identifiers on the blood bags or through DNA testing.
Meanwhile, ProCycling quotes “reports in the Spanish press” in a story suggesting that Giro leader Ivan Basso may have been working with Eufemiano Fuentes. Basso denied this, saying of Saiz:
“We are good friends. But it’s too much to say, without any proof, that doctors within his circle have been involved in my preparation.”
Another interesting angle ProCycling picks up from a story in AS is: “the three-month investigation has been focused on the Canary Islands. They also report more people are likely to be detained in the coming days.”
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