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EPO(no, not again)

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Just a quick summary at the request of my editor: Manilo Saiz and his band of merry pranksters at Liberty Seguros (a team doctor, another assistant, and a one armed man) were pinched by the spanish national police force (think State Troopers with machine guns, 3 corner pointy hats, and the ability to put you in a hard chair under a bare lightbulb).

Apparently this is not your lucky case of stumbling on a Clouseauesque buffoon of a team masseuse driving a car full of vials and syringes over national borders, a la Willy Voet. This was a 4 month professional investigation of following people about, staking out apartments, and phone taps (hello NSA). The results so far seem to be recovering equipment for freezing and mixing blood, 200 bags of blood containing (one would assume) either doping products or altered blood carrying higher levels of oxygen ready to be injected, and codes on the blood bags so each rider gets the correct blood (his own) and not someone elses (generally not recommended).

I've also read that they are pursuing leads in the Canary Islands that target it as a distribution center as well. Since that locale is used by any number of cyclists and teams for early season warm weather training, it all adds up to "Here we go again."

As I mentioned in an earlier thread this really doesn't bode well for Liberty Seguros since they've already gone through the shit storm with Roberto Heras. I personally think Liberty Insurance is going to throw in the towel sooner rather than later, as it can't be the best type of PR for an insurance company ("We care about you , your family, and your business, especially if your family business is boosting your red blood cell levels illegally. We're Liberty Insurance. And we care."

I think we all know how we feel about this problem in general in the sport we love, but unfortunately there's not much we can do about it but curse various participants (Director Sportifs, riders, Doctors, Sponsors who push for too much), hope if doesn't affect our favorites, and move on. You can certainly use this thread to vent if you like though.

Update [2006-5-24 20:8:55 by chris]: Eurosport has a quick piece on Saiz' release.