By Susan Westemeyer
German police this week raided the office and home of a doctor believed to be involved in the Fuentes affair. But investigators fear that what they have so far uncovered is just the tip of the iceberg.
It started with Dr. Marcus Choina, an anaesthetist, who is alleged to have supplied Fuentes with illegal doping products. According to the Rundfunks Berlin Brandenburgs radio station, "According to the investigation so far, Choina is the man who apparently provided medical products for doping purposes which are illegal in Germany to the Spaniard, through Ignacio Labarta."
On Thursday, German police searched Choina's home and office at the local hospital, gathering "numerous pieces of evidence," they said. The Göttingen public attorney has opened an investigation of Choina on charges of violating the prescription drug laws.
The hospital involved has said that the drugs did not come from or through it. "The clinic's infrastructure was not used. The products in question, Actovegin and Synacthen, were not delivered through either of our two central pharmacies. This can be proved by the orders," a Helios Clinic spokesman told the sid press agency.
Choina, who obtained the products through private prescriptions, has been suspended from working at the clinic, and has not yet made a statement. "The doctor told the Bundeskriminalamt that he would have nothing to say," according to an investigation spokesman.
Investigators fear that they could uncover a doping network in Germany similar to that run by Fuentes in Spain. "We are reviewing the documents we have taken into custody to see what products were involved and whether and how much money was involved. We cannot dismiss the possibility that other persons were involved," Hans-Dieter Apel, of the Göttingen public attorneys office told the dpa press agency.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
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March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
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February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
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February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto