Police in Spain’s Catalonia region have dismantled a network that trafficked in performance-enhancing drugs, arresting seven amateur athletes, they said Friday.
Among the substances seized was clenbuterol, the drug for which three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador tested positive last year before being cleared of any wrongdoing by Spain’s cycling federation this week.
“Seven people were arrested, sportsmen from different disciplines, marathon runners, triathletes and bodybuilders,” a spokeswoman for the Catalan police said. “They are amateur sportsmen rather than professionals.”
The operation, which led to the dismantling of a “network importing doping substances”, began in December based on information received from a professional cyclist, the spokeswoman said.
The cyclist, who was not named, said he had received an email “from a person he did not know offering doping substances,” she said.
She said there were no cyclists among those held, but gave no indication who was being supplied with the drugs.
The suspects, arrested throughout Catalonia in northeast Spain, handled “the importation and distribution of substances normally used in sports centres such as anabolic steroids, clenbuterol, growth hormones and others,” she said.
The gang also used “an exclusive supplier” of the banned boosting agent EPO (erythropoietin).
Police carried out searches of five premises. The seven suspects are to be presented Friday before a judge in the Catalan town of Olot.
In addition to the Contador case, several doping scandals have erupted in Spanish sport in recent years.
The most recent, Operación Galgo, led to the arrest of 14 people in December, implicating athletics star Marta Dominguez.