French doctor sentenced to year of house arrest for inciting doping and illegally practicing medicine

Bernard Sainz will wear an electronic tag for the next year, and is prohibited from practicing within the health and sport field

Bernard Sainz
(Image credit: Getty)

A court sentenced Bernard Sainz, nicknamed 'Dr Mabuse', to a year of house arrest on Monday 17 January, after finding him guilty of the illegal practice of medicine and incitement to doping. 

Ineligible for a suspended sentence due to having two prior convictions related to the violation of anti-doping laws in both professional and amateur cycling, the 78-year-old must now wear an electronic tag for the next year. He is also unable to practice within the health and sport during that time. 

Prosecutors had requested Sainz face a two-year prison sentence, a fine of €30,000, and a permanent ban from the health and sport fields during his trial in November in the Paris criminal court. 

Sainz, who describes himself as a "naturopath", faces these charges after findings from 2016 programme Cash Investigation, a joint-project between France Télévision and the newspaper Le Monde.  

The programme captures the French doctor giving advice to riders on how to dope effectively through hidden cameras. Sainz reveals how he could prescribe a cyclist with vitamin D for the corticosteroid ‘diprosten’, or the therapeutic plant ‘chelidonium’, a powerful anabolic agent - both of which are prohibited. 

L’Équipe reported that Sainz is "disappointed" with the verdict and will appeal his sentence, and spoke about the issue of illegal practice of medicine. 

”My skills in naturopathy had been recognised,” said Saint, “which allowed a certain number of patients to regain perfect health in the continuity of the failure of traditional medicine, so I am disappointed to to be condemned for having served the cause of the patients by giving them full health. 

“I am appealing so the sanction is not final." 

Sainz’s lawyer Hector Bernardini also questioned the sentence handed to his client. 

“On the doping aspect, my client is condemned on speculation and interpretation," Bernardini said. "For example, there are no prohibited products seized."

However, as previously mentioned, this isn't the first time the law has reprimanded Sainz. 

In 2014, he received a two-year prison sentence, with 20 months suspended, for inciting doping within cycling in the 1990s. He then received a 12-month suspended sentence in 2019 and a fine of €2,000 after amateur and semi-professional cyclists accused him of dictating protocols for growth hormones, testosterone and EPO between July 2008 and November 2010.

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Ryan Dabbs

Hi, I'm a Trainee News Writer at Cycling Weekly. 


I have worked for Future across its various sports titles since December 2020, writing news for Cycling Weekly, FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture. I am currently studying for a NCTJ qualification alongside my role as Trainee News Writer at the company. 


Prior to joining Future I attended Cardiff University, earning a degree in Journalism & Communications.