The Spanish National Police have announced the bust of ““the largest international organization operating in Spain” responsible for trafficking anabolic steroids, growth hormone and doping substances in Europe in an investigation codenamed Operación Dama (or Operation Lady in English). The codename alludes to the famous pre-Roman Iberian sculpture named the Lady of Elche.
The international doping ring was reportedly led by British expatriates residing in the Spanish beach communities of Denia and Marbella. The arrests of the British expats preceded several additional arrests around the country including the manager of a masters cycling team as well as six individuals in Elche, Spain. Search warrants in Elche ultimately led to a secret laboratory in the attic of a house.
The secret laboratory was used to convert human growth hormone powder into a finished commercial product to be distributed internationally. The hGH powder was imported from China as “aluminum powder” to avoid interception by customs. According to photographs obtained from the official website of the Spanish National Police, the 10,000 dosages of human growth hormone seized involved the G-Tropin brand produced by G-Scientific (aka “G-Sci”). The individuals in Elche were released without being charged.
While the media reports characterize Operation Lady as a massive distribution ring for performance-enhancing substances such as human growth hormone, anabolic steroids and erythropoeitin (EPO), these doping substances may have only accounted for a small percentage of the total drug seizure. The National Police reported that 700,000 dosage units of illegal drugs and 10,000 units of hGH were seized. It appears that the majority of the dosage units involved lifestyle drugs, such as generic Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, used in medicine for erectile dysfunction.