Spain’s national police force has announced that 84 people have been arrested and more than 700,000 doses of substances including anabolic steroids, EPO and human growth hormone seized following a major operation targeting illegal trafficking of doping products.
The drugs are said to have made their way into the country via a delivery company based in Portugal, although they originated from China and Greece, with packages from the latter intercepted by Italian law enforcement officers who were also involved in the operation.
Once in Spain, they were widely distributed through sports centres, gyms and via private addresses, with advertising of the products said to have included via social networking sites.
Arrests have been made throughout Spain, including in Andalusia, Asturias, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Madrid and Valencia, with one of those in detention confirmed as being a pharmacist.
Police say that two distinct distribution rings were involved, and cite some figures that give an idea of the scale of one of those operations – in the first quarter of 2013, it is said to have illegally imported 750 kilos of doping products into the country, and to have been turning over €11,000 a day, which would equate to around €1 million over the three-month period.
News of the operation comes just two days after new legislation in Spain designed to crack down on doping officially became law.
That legislation came in response to criticism from abroad that Spain is not tough enough when it came to anti-doping, including the widely condemned decision by the judge presiding over the Operacion Puerto case earlier this year to order the destruction of evidence rather than making it available for further analysis and investigation by relevant authorities.
The international element also underlines the global nature of trafficking of doping products, with a report earlier this year from the Australian Crime Commission highlighting the existence of links between drugs use in sport and organised crime.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.