Seventy suspects were indicted at Sundsvall district court on Tuesday for their involvement in the largest doping ring ever uncovered in Sweden.
The charges involve people who smuggled, sold and handled the doping materials.
Another 30 people are expected to be charged for their work in transporting and selling the illicit materials.
At a later stage, more than 1,000 people who bought doping materials will also be charged.
“It will be a huge strain on us. It feels incredibly challenging to have to manage such a large and extensive trial,” Judge Sten Burman from the Sundsvall district court told the TT news agency.
Six people are suspected of being the ringleaders in the scandal, five of whom are already in custody.
The sixth suspect, a 45-year-old Swede suspected of leading the operations, is believed to living in Serbia off the proceeds generated from the sale of doping materials. An international arrest warrant has been issued for the man, but remains at large.
“The man managed the operations from Spain and Portugal where doping materials which had been imported from China were processed and for further transport to various addresses in Sweden,” chief prosecutor Marina Amonsson told TT.
The trial will take place in several district courts, but mainly at Sundsvall district court.
“It will be totally impossible to accommodate everyone involved – nearly 200 people – in the same room, so most of the defendants and their attorneys will be present by video link connected at the Malmö, Örebro and Värmland district courts,” said Burman.
“All the accused should be able to take advantage of what is said in the parts of the trial concerning the general part of the indictment,” he added.
The presentation of the indictment was delayed past the scheduled 11am release on Tuesday due to the scale of the unusually extensive investigation.
“It is at the wholesale level. At a later stage, 1,000 to 1,200 buyers will face charges,” Sune Nordström of the Swedish Customs Service (Tullverket) told TT on Monday.
The district court has not had enough time to go through the large volume of material and estimated that it could disclose its findings in several hours.
On May 3rd, 2009, customs seized a large parcel of anabolic steroids on the way to an address in northern Västernorrland.
“The package was sent from Malaga. We soon learned that it involved organised activity. Customs found that we would not be capable of investigating on our own without working with police,” Nordström said.
Police continued an undercover investigation and on December 9th, launched a campaign with officials from customs, the enforcement service and tax administration.
The targets were about 40 people at nine different locations.
“There were 300 people who participated in the campaign. It grew into a huge case – the largest of its kind in Europe,” said Nordström.
“About 100 people are covered by the indictments,” said prosecutor Marina Amonsson.
The trial begins on November 1st at Sundsvall district court and will be the most comprehensive case ever held in Sweden.
During the first part of the trial, comprising nine trial days from November 1st to 18th, all the defendants and their attorneys will be present. Parts of the trial will take place at four other district courts.