Choose Edition
Connect
Choose Edition
Tamaño letra

Tracking the money

Civil Guard concluded Domínguez's earnings were from more than just athletics

The wiretaps to which athlete Marta Domínguez was subjected by a Civil Guard investigation into her involvement in a doping ring were so thorough that one officer knew she was pregnant before most of her relatives. When in October the world champion steeplechaser — who was arrested along with 13 others after a series of lightning raids on Thursday — publicly said she would be temporarily withdrawing from the world of track and field to concentrate on motherhood, one agent is said to have joked: "Well, at last she's announced it, but it doesn't matter if she withdraws, we've already got her."

Together with wiretaps and tailings, the surveillance has been enough for the Civil Guard to bring Operation Greyhound to a head and submit, according to their calculations, an accusation against Domínguez of supplying performance-enhancing drugs to athletes. Agents also examined her earnings, as well as those of most of the others arrested in the operation — six of whom, not including Domínguez, appeared in court in Madrid on Sunday- and reached the conclusion that much of her income could not just have come from participating in track and field.

Sources from the investigation say that there are current accounts in tax havens and signs of money laundering, which will be the next focus of the inquiry.

On top of this, the Civil Guard will also need to analyze the testimonies of the 14 arrested and look at the statements given by athletes trained by coach Manuel Pascua Piqueras.

As well as being asked if they were offered performance-enhancing drugs by Piqueras, and if these were supplied by Domínguez, the group gave saliva samples to allow their DNA to be checked against bags of blood found in the house of former cyclist Alberto León. Agents also face the task of looking into the lack of bags and equipment necessary for storing blood in León's apartment, after certain recorded conversations convinced them of the existence around Madrid of a big store containing blood bags belonging to more sports people, not just track-and-field athletes.

The key to this will be the questioning of Eufemiano Fuentes, the Canarian doctor who investigators believe has rebuilt the logistics of the transfusion firm dismantled by the Operation Puerto doping investigation in 2006, and the examination of documents seized in his Las Palmas and Madrid residences on Thursday. Early analysis by agents suggests that Fuentes continued to maintain relations with a significant number of sports people of a high level- and not just Spaniards.

Meanwhile, the biggest concern of the sporting authorities is that once operations are closed, the courts will only worry about the crime of promoting and providing drugs — the only thing punishable under the penal code — and that they hand them the necessary evidence to open disciplinary measures against athletes who are using drugs.

The main fear is a repeat of what happened after Operation Puerto, when very few cyclists could be banned, even though it was known they had been doping because the court denied them the evidence.