13 June 2016

Colombian police arrest sports doping kingpin

Colombian police have arrested Alberto Beltrán Niño at the request of police authorities in Spain, who put out an Interpol red notice in 2014 due to allegations that the doctor is involved in an international doping ring. ‘Interpol, in coordination with the Colombian police, captured in Bogotá a medical man considered by authorities to be the “King of doping worldwide”’, read a statement. ‘According to research, he was the head of a network of prohibited distribution between high performance athletes, especially cyclists, whom he supplied with next generation drugs and sometimes even substances for veterinary use’.

Niño has worked for a number of professional cycling teams, including Xacobeo-Galicia, Selle Italia, Cafés Baque, Kaiku and LA Liberty Seguros. In April 2001, whilst working for Selle Italia, Spanish police stopped his car near Modena and found a large amount of doping products. He was also at LA Liberty Seguros when three cyclists tested positive for CERA (continuous erythropoietin receptor activator) at the 2009 Tour of Portugal, including winner Nuno Ribeiro. In 2012 he was arrested at Madrid airport with two next-generation performance-enhancing drugs, along with 10 other people.

According to the Colombian police, the drugs he has utilised include oxygen booster AICAR; peptide hormone TB 500 (thymosin beta-4) that helps an athlete recover faster; and erythropoietin (EPO). The statement said that these substances were acquired in the US, where they are ‘freely used’ in horse racing. Niño is being held at La Picota prison in Bogotá.

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