Trial begins into French doctor and two others accused of attempting to dope cyclists

Bernand Sainz has been involved in cycling circles for the best part of six decades

Bernard Sainz
(Image credit: Getty)

A week-long court trial has begun an investigation into a French doctor who was caught on TV in 2016 explaining how he could prescribe a number of banned substances to a cyclist.

Bernand Sainz sat before the Paris Criminal Court on Monday (November 22) alongside two other defendants, former cyclist Loïc Herbreteau and former actor Pierre-Marie Carlier.

The trio are having to defend themselves against accusations of “illegal practise of medicine in a state of recidivism”, the “illegal practice of the profession of pharmacist”, and “helping and inciting the use of a prohibited substance or method by athletes in the context of a sporting event in a state of legal recidivism” Le Télégramme reports.

Recidivism refers to the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend. 

The charges that the three are accused of are in relation to a June 2016 program called Cash Investigation that was a joint project between France Télévision and the newspaper Le Monde.

It showed Mr Sainz, who is now 78, giving advice on how to dope cyclists, sitting in a bar in Paris explaining in coded language how he could prescribe a cyclist with vitamin D for the corticosteroid ‘diprosten’, or the therapeutic plant ‘chelidonium’ which is a powerful anabolic agent. Both substances are prohibited in competition.

Mr Sainz also advised the cyclist to take EPO, before later explaining the fees, dependent on future gains.

He was taken into police custody in November 2017 despite slamming the report as “slanderous”. At the time he informed police that he was retired as a doctor but still advised his family, close friends and athletes since he was a “recognised specialist in natural medicine.”

He confessed to treating athletes in the past, but insisted that he “no longer do [did - sic] today, except for four athletes including two professional cyclists.”

On his website Mr Sainz says that he treated some of the peloton’s biggest stars in the 1960s and 1970s, including Raymond Poulidor and Bernard Thévenet, a two-time winner of the Tour de France

In 2014 he was sentenced to two years in prison - 20 months of which was suspended - for inciting doping within cycling in the 1990s.

Five years later he was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence and fined €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.

Meanwhile, Mr Herbreteau, 45, is accused of connecting athletes with Mr Sainz, while Mr Carlier, 56, is alleged to have put his own son, Alexis Carlier, in contact with Mr Sainz for the benefit of sporting performance.”

The trial is slated to take place until Monday, November 29.