EPO found in bags of blood is seized

Published on Nov 24, 2006 11:31 PM IST

Police seized 96 bags of blood products and 20 of frozen plasma stored in two refrigerators.

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None | ByAssociated Press, Madrid

High levels of EPO were found in some of the bags of blood seized by Spanish authorities investigating doping in cycling, the Spanish daily El Mundo reported on Friday. A total of 224 bags of blood, blood products and plasma were seized by police in last May as part of  "Operation Puerto" and 90 of the bags have been analysed chemically.

Eight of the bags tested at a Barcelona laboratory returned with traces of the hormone EPO, or erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells to improve endurance. The Barcelona lab confirmed to The Associated Press that it was working on the case but would not comment further. The bags were discovered in two apartments belonging to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, one of eight people charged with crimes against public health.

"We have nothing official about the results of the tests," Julian Perez Templado, Fuentes' lawyer, told Spanish daily El Mundo. "But the fact that they have discovered EPO in the bags of blood does not signify that it is a crime against the public health. That is what the defendants are being judged on."

Police also seized steroids, hormones, EPO and equipment for treating blood at the Madrid clinic. Riders allegedly visited the clinic to have blood extracted for doping or to collect performance-enhancing drugs.

Police seized 96 bags of blood products and 20 of frozen plasma stored in two refrigerators at one of Fuentes' apartments, while 89 bags of blood and 19 of plasma were taken from a second property, according to a Civil Guard document.

Most of the material carried labels with a date, number and code name.

"To take EPO is not a crime, that it's ethically reproachable is quite another thing," Perez Templado said.

None of the blood bags were directly linked to the 58 cyclists implicated in the investigation, which led to pre-race favorites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso being barred from the Tour de France.

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