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Analysis: How Spain became center of operations in Armstrong’s doping ring

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Oct. 16, 2012
French headlines have recently vilified Lance Armstrong, who had numerous run-ins with the French press and doping authorities. Photo: Franck Fife | AFP

Spanish Belgian

Another strong connection to Spain came via team manager Johan Bruyneel, who is now facing a lifetime ban for his role in the doping ring.

Bruyneel and Spain were synonymous. A polyglot Belgian fluent in Spanish, Bruyneel was comfortable in Spain. Some of his biggest successes as a pro came on Spanish roads, he purchased a home in the posh seaside resort at Denia and married a Spanish woman.

After riding the final years of his career at ONCE, he developed strong connections within the Spanish cycling establishment that would prove invaluable when he took over U.S. Postal Service at the end of 1998.

Three of the most important players in the doping conspiracy — Spanish doctors Pedro Celaya and Luís del Moral and trainer Pepe Martí — all lived and worked along the Mediterranean Coast just a few hours’ drive from Girona.

By the 2000, France and Italy had both enacted strict anti-doping laws that gave police and prosecutors sweeping powers. Spain had no such law until 2006.

The USADA dossier paints an vivid, detailed portrait of how the Spanish doctors, with the assistance of Martí, procured, distributed and administered doping products, all from their operational base in Spain. Based on excerpts from the USADA “Reasoned Decision,” VeloNews has been able to reconstruct a narrative of how the Spanish connection was a vital ingredient to the ring’s success.

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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