By Les Clarke
After his arrest and detention on doping charges, along with four others, Manolo Saiz has been the hottest topic in Spanish cycling during the last 24 hours. Various figures involved in the administration of cycling in Spain have expressed their views on the situation, including Spanish Cycling Federation president Fulgencio Sánchez, Association of Professional Cyclists boss José Rodriguez, Kelme director Vicente Belda and Vuelta a España director Victor Cordero.
The Court of Instruction number 31 in Plaza Castille, in Madrid, is coordinating the operation in together with the Central Operating Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard, which specialises in matters of drug trafficking. The investigation has been going on for several months, and has included phone taps.
Before the arrest of Saiz and four others, the UCO searched three residences in Madrid; two flats belonging to Eufemiano Fuentes and the clinic of José Merino Batres, plus another residence in San Lorenzo del Escorial belonging to mountain biker Alberto León. Another flat was investigated - that belonging to José Ignacio Labarta, the assistant sports director of Comunidad Valenciana, in Zaragoza.
As reported by Efe, in an apartment belonging to Fuentes, approximately a thousand doses of anabolic steroids and hormones were seized, along with one hundred packets of blood, products to manipulate it, machines to freeze it and material to perform transfusions.
The clinic of José Merino was allegedly used for the blood transfusions of cyclists, athletes and other sportsmen, and Fuentes has links to the centre in his capacity as former doctor for the Kelme team. This is because the clinic was mentioned in the investigation involving former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano; the allegations made in that case were subsequently dismissed, however.
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