French and Belgian investigators have uncovered an international doping network, with 24 arrests being made on Tuesday. The ringleader is a 62 year old man "S.F." from Tremelo, Belgium, who was caught red-handed in a parking lot in Cahors while negotiating a deal: he had 83 syringes of 'pot Belge' in his possession. The police were tipped off after a French cyclist admitted that he had bought doping products from the man last year. The man's son has also been arrested, as well as their supplier "V.J.", a man from Wommelgem near Antwerp in Belgium.
A large-scale simultaneous operation was carried out by police on Tuesday evening, with seven people being arrested in Cahors out of a total of 18 in France. Five house searches were also carried out in Belgium, resulting in six arrests. Four of those will meet the investigating judge in Leuven to see whether they will continue to be held in custody.
Investigators have been on the trail of the doping network since early last year, and believe that S.F. was supplying doping products to French riders. The French cycling federation has been assisting with the inquiry. "We had strong suspicions and therefore we informed the investigating magistrate," French cycling federation president Jean Pitallier was quoted by AFP as saying.
It's not thought that any professional riders are involved.