Spanish press says mystery WADA witness in Contador case is masseur who claims rider doped in 2005

Interviu magazine says masseur gave sworn statement saying he saw rider injected with insulin at Tour de France

by Simon_MacMichael   April 23, 2012  

Contador and Riis

Spanish magazine Interviu has said that a former masseur with the Liberty Seguros team is the mystery witness that the World Anti-Doping Agency unsuccessfully sought to introduce in the Alberto Contador hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last year, and that he has claimed that the cyclist was given banned insulin injections during the 2005 Tour de France.

According to the unnamed witness, those injections, reports Interviu, were allegedly carried out under the supervision of the Spanish team’s doctor, Eufemiano Fuentes, the man at the centre of the Operacion Puerto doping scandal that broke in 2006 and who is due to stand trial in Spain alongside several other people in connection with that investigation.

Interviu states that the unnamed masseur provided a sworn declaration before a notary in May 2011 that “ A Contador was subject to insulin injections during the 2005 Tour de France. Eufemiano Fuentes was in fact the team doctor and insulin formed part of the treatment of all [riders].”

It’s unclear from the abridged version of Interviu’s article on its website whether it has actually identified the witness, or whether it is relying solely on documentation provided as part of the Contador CAS hearing; the reference to the sworn affidavit suggests the latter.

While the witness’s position within Liberty Seguros would be likely to enable the authorities to quickly identify the person concerned, it’s unlikely that the UCI, for example, would be able to order an investigation until the Operacion Puerto trial is over to avoid prejudicing it, although reports from Spain suggest that will not open until 2013.

It is however likely that if they have not already done so, the Spanish authorities would be eager to speak to the person concerned.

Contador himself was investigated in connection with Operacion Puerto in 2006, but later that year was cleared by the Spanish courts of any involvement, a point made by his lawyer’s at last year’s CAS hearing when WADA had attempted to introduce testimony from the mystery witness, who had sought anonymity due to fears for his own safety and that of his family.

Despite his lawyers successfully blocking that testimony, with no agreement reached on how to preserve the witness’s testimony, Contador is currently serving a two-year ban, most of it backdated, after CAS overturned the decision of the Spanish national cycling federation, the RFEC, not to sanction him as a result of his positive test for clenbuterol in the 2010 Tour de France.

As reported here on road.cc in February, initial speculation in the Spanish press had suggested that the mystery witness in the Contador case was a rider, with former Liberty Seguros team mates Jorg Jaksche and Michele Scarponi, both of whom had confessed to their involvement in Operacion Puerto, as being the most likely candidates.

 

18 user comments

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Not sure what insulin injections would do, other than making riders hypoglycaemic. Maybe they mean Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1)? That's potentially anabolic, and may help recovery, though there is no good evidence for its performance enhancing effects, and it is likely to be carcinogenic.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1335 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 13:55

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From CBC Sports

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/indepth/drugs/glossary/dictionary.html#insulin

Insulin

TYPE OF SUBSTANCE Peptide Hormone

WHAT FORM DOES THE DRUG TAKE? injection

CLINICAL USE Insulin is a natural hormone secreted from the pancreas, which controls the levels of glucose in the body. Diabetics use it to prevent a rise in blood sugars.

WHY ATHLETES USE IT & WHY IT'S BANNED Athletes use insulin in conjunction with anabolic steroids to help build muscles. It also helps athletes increase their stamina and endurance.

SPORTS MOST ASSOCIATED WITH ITS USE bodybuilding, power-lifting, cycling

WHO'S TESTED POSITIVE? Italian cyclist Marco Pantani, winner of the 1998 Tour de France, was suspended after being found guilty of possessing an insulin syringe at the 2001 Giro d'Italia.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8025 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 14:31

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My thoughts cat1 were that insulin could help maintain a low bodyweight? Presumably it would be undetectable as it is rapidly assimilated. Clenbutarol is a drug used to facilitate weight loss as well. Cannot understand why you would be trying to reduce your body weight during the tour; surely you would be trying to maintain bodyweight! Which makes your 'anabolic' conclusion more likely. I am thinking there are some clever people behind these chemical interventions...

posted by SideBurn [787 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 14:31

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Forgive me if I am saying something utterly stupid here but if insulin and insulin syringes are banned in cycling then what do Team Type 1 do? Or do they have some sort of special dispensation? Or am I talking nonsense?

posted by farrell [1401 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 14:47

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I dont think insulin and the syringes are banned, but if your not diabetic it may raise suspicions.

I think some of Team Type 1 ride with a pump like this http://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetic-products/pumps/accu-chek-spirit-insul...

Something along those lines and all you have to do is keep it topped up with insulin, the pump does the rest Wink

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posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 16:24

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@farrell

Someone who is diabetic or asthmatic (just a couple of examples) can obtain what is known as a TUE - Therapeutic Use Exemption.

More details on WADA website:

http://www.wada-ama.org/en/Science-Medicine/TUE/

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8025 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 16:37

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"Athletes use insulin in conjunction with anabolic steroids to help build muscles" Simon_MacMicheal. Surely cyclists cannot still take anabolic steroids in competition and get away with it with masking drugs? I thought things had moved on to blood doping/transfusions and more undetectable protocols? Surely testing is making some progress? People were using steroids in the 1970's

posted by SideBurn [787 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 17:16

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I think CBC Sports was giving an example rather than exhaustive list. World Anti-Doping Codes specifically bans "Insulins" as a class and under a separate heading bans "Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1).

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8025 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 17:59

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This IGF-1 stuff makes sense. Insulin has an effect on the body; it does not stay in the body. Unless some sort of marker is put into this product it would be undetectable. The testers seem always to be way behind the science.

posted by SideBurn [787 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 19:31

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Ummmm no. Insulin c peptide ratio can be used as a surrogate to check for exogenously administered insulin, so actually I'm pretty sure it's easily detectable, and has been since the 60s. Or something like that.

On closer inspection turns out the doping agencies really are fairly useless feckers, and despite this test being available in forensic Labs since early 90s, they're still validating it for doping.

posted by richardvaltos [18 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 21:48

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A method was developed and introduced in 1960 and has been used as evidence in allegations of murder. Until then it was the perfect murder weapon and available without prescription! But insulin is not easy to detect now or then. But IGF-1, insulin and Clenbuterol are all it seems used to reduce body fat!

posted by SideBurn [787 posts]
23rd April 2012 - 22:53

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You guys are all off a bit. One of the limiting factors in these long bike races is keeping up with glycogen stores. It is often physically impossible for the riders to eat enough, because they get full and bloated from eating too much carb. Small doses of insulin will cause greater glycogen deposition and will probably run their blood sugars a little low. The lower blood sugars will trigger hunger and thus, they eat more, store more glycogen. The rapid acting insulin analogs only last 3-4 hours. It can all be done safely, and I bet I could do it with my lmited training in endocrinology. Insulin does not build muscle mass so much, but will cause overall weight gain if used excessively. The amount these riders use is just enough to completely top off glycogen stores, With high glycogen stores, they are much less likely to bonk. Sulfonylureas stimulate insulin production and these have been found in the trash of pro bike racers in the past. Same idea as insulin.

posted by nadimk [7 posts]
24th April 2012 - 2:12

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Cheers nadimk! Now it makes sense; but did he or didn't he Thinking

posted by SideBurn [787 posts]
24th April 2012 - 9:37

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Never mind all that, who's going to pull him up on his Nazi salute? Big Grin

Patrick.

posted by Littlehuan [46 posts]
26th April 2012 - 10:26

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Chinese Eric Morecombe...
Nerd

posted by robert_obrien [117 posts]
26th April 2012 - 14:54

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Surprised noone's mentioned the front page of the Interviu site (NSFW), it's a bit of a weird mag that has tits+ass, as well as serious articles.

posted by mogrim [38 posts]
26th April 2012 - 15:21

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mogrim wrote:
Surprised noone's mentioned the front page of the Interviu site (NSFW), it's a bit of a weird mag that has tits+ass, as well as serious articles.

Oops. Possibly remiss of me. Think I probably got desensitised to stuff like that during the year I spent in Italy, no-one bats an eyelid over there at the juxtaposition of serious news articles with bare flesh.

Was embarrassing at times during my student days when I'd pick up an Italian news mag over here and be reading it on the train in London, say, turn the page from an serious political article to a full page pic of La Cicciolina wearing nothing but that band around her hair...

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8025 posts]
26th April 2012 - 16:25

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nadimk wrote:
You guys are all off a bit. One of the limiting factors in these long bike races is keeping up with glycogen stores. It is often physically impossible for the riders to eat enough, because they get full and bloated from eating too much carb. Small doses of insulin will cause greater glycogen deposition and will probably run their blood sugars a little low. The lower blood sugars will trigger hunger and thus, they eat more, store more glycogen. The rapid acting insulin analogs only last 3-4 hours. It can all be done safely, and I bet I could do it with my lmited training in endocrinology. Insulin does not build muscle mass so much, but will cause overall weight gain if used excessively. The amount these riders use is just enough to completely top off glycogen stores, With high glycogen stores, they are much less likely to bonk. Sulfonylureas stimulate insulin production and these have been found in the trash of pro bike racers in the past. Same idea as insulin.

At last someone who knows what its correctly used for Thanks for the competent explaination, I learnt somthing there Nadimk Big Grin

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posted by Paulo [110 posts]
27th April 2012 - 17:53

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