Spain's 'Operation Greyhound' nabs one of the country's most decorated athletes
Marta Domínguez, world champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, was one of 14 athletes, coaches, doctors, and others arrested in Spain's latest anti-doping investigation.
Spain woke Friday dismayed and disappointed to learn that Marta Domínguez, world champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, national icon, and 2009 European Athlete of the Year, had been arrested for her role in a doping ring – the latest in a series of drug scandals in Spanish sport.Skip to next paragraph
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Ms. Domínguez, who was aiming to make London 2012 her fourth Olympics, is one of 14 people arrested as part of Operation Greyhound after police found large enough quantities of banned substances in her home. The police said they suspect she was distributing drugs to other athletes. She was released late Thursday after being questioned.
The raids highlight the growing role of governments in the fight against doping.
Government authorities have been instrumental in a wide range of scandals, from shutting down the BALCO steroids ring in California to ousting 13 cyclists from the Tour de France later that year, and – this year – launching major investigations such as the joint US-Interpol effort to determine whether Lance Armstrong used illegal drugs.
Such investigations cast a much wider net than drug tests, meaning that athletes who have never tested positive can still be sidelined from competition – often along with the entourage of coaches, doctors, and others who abetted their doping.
And that's progress for the global antidoping movement, says Richard Pound, who led the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for eight years from its inception in 1999. Under his leadership, WADA worked with governments and sports federations to establish a more unified front against dopers.
"It doesn’t matter to me whether you catch Marion Jones, [Barry] Bonds, or [Roger] Clemens sticking needles in themselves, as long as you get them out of the competition," says Mr. Pound. "It’s kind of like getting Al Capone for tax evasion."
Zero tolerance for doping
Spain’s athletics federation suspended Ms. Domínguez, who is seven months pregnant and taking a year off from competition, from her post as vice-president Friday pending the results of the investigation. Domínguez’s coach and manager were also arrested, as was her sports doctor. Blood-transfusion bags were also confiscated during the 15 raids carried out Thursday following an eight-month investigation. Other arrests included doctors, pharmacists, and trainers, the Interior Ministry said.