Puerto trial: Liberty Seguros manager had authorization for corticoids seized by police

Former ONCE and Liberty Seguros manager Manolo Saiz, currently standing trial for crimes against public health, has been exonerated of suspicions that he was illicitly in possession of a medical product, when he was arrested by police during the Operacion Puerto investigation in May 2006.

According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Maria de los Angeles Dal-Re, a former sub-director of the Spanish govenments’s Medicine and Health Products Agency, said that she authorized the use of a number of medical products by Liberty Seguros in March 2006, incuding the corticoid Synacthen  - not for sale in Spain  - which Saiz was carrying when he was arrested. She also said he was authorized to take it with him to the Tour de France.

Dal-Re said that she recognised that it was not normal to have requests for these medicines, but that there would have been a procedure in place to check they were for correct use before any authorization was given.

Saiz’ possession of Synacthen when arrested was central to the accusations made against the former Liberty Seguros manager.

Amongst those testifying on Tuesday is Tyler Hamilton, who will declare by video conference from the USA. Hamilton has already identified Fuentes in his autobiography and in declarations to the US Anti-Doping Agency as the man behind his blood transfusions in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Hamilton tested positive twice during this era for blood transfusions, once after the 2004 Olympics (although it was never confirmed because the B sample was tarnished) and again in the Vuelta a Espana that same year. Given a positive test for transfusions was not possible when the blood belongs to the original donor, there is speculation that the positives could indicate Fuentes' chain of custody of the bags used by Hamilton at this period was ineffective and that the bags between two different ‘clients’ of the Spanish doctor were accidentally swapped over, provoking the positives.

Another important witness set to testify on Tuesday is Jordi Segura, the head of Barcelona’s anti-doping lab, who should hopefully confirm details on the whereabouts of at least some of the 214 blood bags that were seized during the police raids. 173 bags are understood to be in the Barcelona lab, something which Segura may confirm, and eight of them contained traces of EPO. However, Segura will not be required to identify to whom the blood originally belonged, just the codes and dates on each bag.

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