Bernard Sainz, nicknamed ‘Doctor Mabuse,’ was arrested on Monday morning. According to AFP, the 74-year-old was arrested at his home in the Orne département in north-western France as part of a French doping investigation.
A judicial inquiry was opened in Paris on February 10 this year on the back of evidence outlined against Sainz in an episode of French television show Cash Investigation in 2016. In the documentary, Sainz was recorded by a hidden camera as he explained doping practices to riders.
AFP reports that Sainz – who is not a qualified doctor – is suspected of several infractions of France’s public health laws, including “the illegal practice of medicine, inciting the use of banned substances by sportspeople, aiding the use of banned substances by sportspeople, and complicity in the acquisition and illicit possession of toxic substances.”
In September of this year, Sainz was sentenced to nine months in prison and a €20,000 fine by a court in Caen as part of a previous investigation into doping in French amateur cycling. Sainz immediately appealed the verdict.
In 2014, Sainz was handed a two-year prison sentence (with 20 months suspended) for the illegal practice of medicine, a sentence which he also appealed. The previous year, Sainz had been fined €3,000 after he was implicated in an investigation into the doping of race horses.
Sainz has always denied any wrongdoing, and in the summer of 2016, he gave an interview to Europe 1 in which he refuted the allegations made in the Cash Investigation documentary and in a linked report by Le Monde.
In an interview with French newspaper Libération this year, the former junior world champion Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier confirmed that he had been of two riders to wear a hidden camera for the documentary that implicated Sainz. “I wasn’t afraid, I just wanted to help bring an end to the Mabuse system,” Lecuisinier said. “If there is no trial, all of this will have been for nothing…”
Lecuisiner spent four seasons as a professional with FDJ, but he left the team at the end of 2016 and dropped down to amateur level after he was unable to find a berth at another professional squad.
Despite his controversial reputation, Sainz has continued to appear at professional bike races in recent years. In 2015, for instance, Libération reported that Sainz was present and wearing an accreditation at the start village in Livarot on that year’s Tour de France.