The Operación Galgo investigation into an alleged blood doping ring in Spain has taken a tragic turn with the announcement of the suicide of Alberto León. The former mountain biker was one of 14 people arrested by Spanish police in December. He had previously been detained as part of the Operación Puerto blood doping investigation in 2006.
The Spanish press has reported that 37-year-old León was found hanged in his brother’s home, where he was staying after recently separating from his wife.
León had been one of the stalwarts of the Spanish mountain biking scene in the 1990s, riding for the Coronas-BH team that was for many years regarded as the country’s best.
León came to greater prominence when he was arrested as part of the Puerto investigation in mid-2006. According to the Spanish police, León was trusted with key tasks by Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of both the Puerto and Galgo investigations, including the cleaning and maintenance of machinery used in the transfusion process.
León was also alleged to have transported blood bags to athletes for use during competition. When arrested, León was found to have a plane ticket to Milan, which coincided with the finale of that year’s Giro d’Italia. Four years on, a verdict has still to be delivered in the Puerto case.
On December 9, León was arrested for crimes against public health while in the process of giving Spanish middle-distance athlete Alemayehu Bezabeh a blood transfusion. Bezabeh later admitted to blood doping and said that he thought León was medically trained. He said he used to call him ‘The Doctor’.
Wiretap evidence presented by the Spanish police has also suggested that León had a key role in the blood doping network, to the point where he was storing blood bags at his apartment and planning programmes for transfusion with athletics coach Manuel Pascua.