By Elisa Santafe (AFP) – Dec 10, 2010
MADRID — Spain's athletics federation Friday suspended one of the world's top track stars from her post as vice president over a doping scandal in which she and 13 others have been arrested.
Marta Dominguez, who won the 3,000-metre steeplechase at the 2009 world championships as well as the silver medal in the 5,000 metres at the 2001 and 2003 events, was detained on Thursday along with other top athletes, coaches and medical staff as part of Operation Galgo.
It was the third major police anti-doping operation in Spain in recent years.
Judicial sources said Dominguez is suspected of a "crime against public health in relation to doping substances."
The head Spanish athletics federation (RFEA), Jose Maria Odriozola, told Dominguez in a letter that since the matter "seriously damages the image of Spanish athletics, I have decided as a precaution to suspend your appointment as vice president...
"I hope these charges will be clarified soon and we will be able to know the extent of your implication as soon as possible," he said in the letter, which was released to the media.
Dominguez, 35, is one of four vice presidents of the RFEA and is in charge of relations with athletes.
She was provisionally released from police custody in her home town of Palencia in northern Spain late on Thursday. The sources said she would appear before a Madrid judge "soon", possibly by video link from Palencia.
The ministry said police carried out 15 raids of homes in various parts of the country as part of Operation Galgo in which they also seized anabolic steroids, bags of blood and "laboratory utensils for blood transfusion."
The newspaper El Pais said that during the search of Dominguez's home "substances were found, such as (the banned performance-enhancing drug) EPO, in sufficient quantities to justify the accusation of supplying, further supported by the previous statements of another athlete."
Dominguez is not taking part in the 2011 season because she is pregnant. She had planned to return in 2012 for the London Olympics.
Twelve of the 14 held remained in custody on Friday, police and the interior ministry said.
Others detained included Dominguez's coach Cesar Perez and another trainer, Manuel Pascua, the judicial sources said.
Spanish media said that others arrested included mountain bike cyclist Alberto Leon Puerto, the athlete Alberto Garcia, who was sanctioned in 2003 for a positive doping test, and Dominguez's manager, Jose Alonso Valero.
The raids "stripped naked Spanish athletics and put an end to one of its biggest myths, Marta Dominguez," commented El Pais.
It was the third major anti-doping operation in Spain after Operation Puerto, which in 2006 implicated professional cyclists, and Operation Grial last year, following which Spanish walker Franciso Fernandez, a silver medalist at the 2004 Olympics, was banned for two years.
Police said some of those detained on Thursday were also linked to Operation Puerto.
These included sports physician Eufemiano Fuentes, who was accused of being the mastermind of a vast blood doping network after a May 2006 police raid on his Madrid laboratory allegedly uncovered doping products and 100 bags of blood products.
Among the riders caught up in that investigation were former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich and Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso.
The latest operation comes after the International Cycling Union in September provisionally suspended Spain's Alberto Contador after a small amount of the muscle-building drug clenbuterol was found in a blood sample taken during this year's Tour de France race, which he won for the third time.
The 27-year-old Spanish rider insists he is the victim of contaminated meat brought in from Spain that he ate.
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