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'Dr Mabuse' sentenced to year of house arrest for illegal practice of medicine and inciting doping

Bernard Sainz on trial in Caen in 2017
Bernard Sainz on trial in Caen in 2017 (Image credit: Getty)

Bernard Sainz, nicknamed ‘Dr Mabuse’, has been sentenced to a year of house arrest after he was found guilty of the illegal practice of medicine and incitement to doping.

The 78-year-old must wear an electronic tag for the next twelve months and he is also prohibited from practicing professionally in the fields of sport and health.

Saiz’s latest conviction follows an investigation by France Télévisions and Le Monde in June 2016, when a hidden camera showed Sainz outlining doping practices to riders. The former junior world champion Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier confirmed to Libération in 2017 that he had been of two riders to wear a hidden camera for the ‘Cash Investigation’ documentary that implicated Sainz.

According to L’Équipe (opens in new tab), Sainz will appeal his sentence, with lawyer Hector Bernardini insisting that his client had been convicted “on speculation and interpretation.” Sainz described himself as “disappointed” with the verdict and sentence. “I allowed some people to recover their health on the margins of conventional medicine,” he said.

The prosecution had requested a two-year prison sentence for Sainz during the trial in the criminal court in Paris in November. Sainz’s previous convictions include a two-year prison sentence (with 20 months suspended) in 2014, also for the illegal practice of medicine and incitement to doping.

In February 2019, he was given a one-year suspended sentence and a €2,000 fine by the Caen court of appeal. In 2013, Sainz was fined €3,000 after he was implicated in an investigation into the doping of race horses.

Sainz, who defines himself as a “naturopath,” has been linked to professional cycling since the 1960s, and past clients include the late Philippe Gaumont and Frank Vandenbroucke. The nature of his activities reached a wider audience in the aftermath of the Festina Affair in 1998 but despite repeated cases in the intervening period, he continued to frequent professional cycling, with Libération reporting that he attended the 2015 Tour de France in Livarot with an accreditation.

French Cycling Federation lawyer Paul Mauriac expressed frustration at Sainz’s repeated offences. “We have known him for 30 years and he is still at large," Mauriac said, according to L’Équipe. “The damage is done, it is irreversible. Mr. Sainz is a cat that always lands on his feet, unfortunately.”

On Monday, Sainz’s co-defendant, Loïc Herbreteau, the former French amateur champion, was sentenced to a three-month suspended prison sentence and fined €2,000 for incitement to doping.

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