If it’s been hard to nail riders and their “doctors” for doping because they’ve often been one step ahead of the testers, constantly refining techniques to avoid detection, one area where people might slip up is the money. Shady riders, teams and doctors might be good at cycling or doping but they are probably so pro when it comes to money laundering. In this instance, it’s quite possible that experienced investigators have a substantial edge on those involved.
Doping is big business, a box of EPO vials doesn’t come cheap for a healthcare service, when it has to be prescribed illegally the cost goes up, middlemen get involved. There have been cases of organised crime getting on on the act, of clandestine laboratories making copycat products in the same way a small textile factor produces fake Lacoste t-shirts. In some cases the banned substances get stolen by an armed crew from a clinic or warehouse, a sign of just how valuable this can be.
It’s often been the case in recent years that cyclists get busted by the police. A majority of the biggest scandals are revealed by the judicial authorities, not the anti-doping controls.
Money has the advantage of leaving traces. Banks keep records for years and years. A sample can deteriorate in a lab over time but records of wire transfers and cash deposits don’t change. This isn’t to say the investigation in Italy will be conclusive but that forensic accountants have caught high level fraud amongst organised criminals and determined professional insiders in the financial system. Busting some riders, maybe a team or two and a doctor could well be child’s play.