Women’s Tennis Star Linked to Lance Armstrong Doping Scandal

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Sara Errani, a rising star who is one of the top-ranked women’s tennis players, has been linked to one of the doctors implicated in the doping scandal involving Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service pro cycling team. Errani is one of several international athletes in a variety of sports who have scrambled to defend themselves from charges of guilt by association.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) named Luis García del Moral as one of three doctors who provided anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to Lance Armstrong during his career. Garcia del Moral is a Spanish physician who works at the Instituto de Medicina del Deporte in Valencia, Spain.

Armstrong won the Tour de France, a grueling three-week stage race considered the “Super Bowl” of professional cycling, a record seven times. Garcia del Moral was credited with providing the anabolic steroid testosterone as well as erythropoietin (EPO), Actovegin, corticosteroids and blood transfusions to the USPS cycling team for five of those victories.

Several USPS cyclists who were teammates of Armstrong, including Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, testified that Garcia del Moral provided blood transfusions to them as a team doctor.

“You’re not a real professional if you don’t take drugs,” Garcia del Moral allegedly told another pro cyclist who spoke to the Wall Street Journal.

Garcia del Moral was reportedly known among athletes as a doctor who provided assistance with doping. But Errani vehemently denied using PEDs or even being aware of Garcia del Moral’s association with doping. Errani reported using the Spanish doctor only because he was highly regarded as one of the best sports medicine specialists in Spain.

Errani acknowledged that the news about Garcia del Moral had become a distraction for her. She decided to end her contact with him as a result.

“Of course I’m not interested in to keep working with one person that is involved in these things,” said Errani. “He was the best doctor in Valencia for everything, so I have been working with him of course. But now his name is not good name.”

Garcia del Moral was given a lifetime ban by USADA after he failed to respond to USADA’s formal accusations.

While the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code, there is no provision that considers working with a suspended doctor as an infringement of the Code. However, the possibility of “guilt by association” leaves most athletes with little choice but to severe their relationships with physicians who have been stigmatized as “doping doctors”.

Photo credit: Shinya / Flickr via Wikipedia


Rothenberg, B. (September 6, 2012). Errani Tries to Distance Herself From Barred Spanish Doctor. Retrieved from http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/06/errani-tries-to-distance-herself-from-barred-spanish-doctor/

Albergotti, R. (June 18, 2012). Cycling Doctor Luis García del Moral, Who Worked for Lance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service Team, Under a Microscope. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303703004577473003044421504.html