March 24, 2004
Manzano doping allegations coming out
In an article in AS (en Español), Manzano claims doctors for the Kelme team extracted blood before last year's Tour to be used for "blood boosting" during the race (and sloppily, to boot):
"One thing that struck me as strange was that they left the bags altogether on a plastic tray without marking whose was whose," says Manzano. "The first thing you should do is mark them and put them in a blood bank because they need to be properly preserved."
Blood boosting or blood doping is the process of increasing the body's red blood supply by extracting blood, then reintroducing it after the body has replaced the lost volume, giving riders greater blood volume. Since the process (theoretically) uses the rider's own blood, and no foreign substance is introduced, it's very hard to test for.
Manzano also claims that his exit from the Tour last year during Stage 7 resulted from a substance he can't name that team doctors gave him before the stage, which caused him to lose feeling in his extremities and then to collapse:
I felt like I lost contact with my own body. I realised they had cut my jersey open in the ambulance and were giving me an injection and electrocardiagram tests.
"When I got back to the hotel the team made me do interviews [to explain things]. But I didn’t abandon for the reason that some people have said, it wasn’t because of the sun."
The allegations threaten Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme's chances to make this year's Tour. When 21 teams were announced last month, organizers left the door open for a provisional invitation to a 22nd, expected to be Kelme, based on this season's results and team financials. Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc said yesterday he was waiting to hear Manzano's story, but "We would only say no to Kelme if it was shown that grave actions had been carried out."
Manzano showed the newspaper how he and other riders could test their hematocrit level, used by regulatory bodies to show possible doping, and admitted to the use of Actovegin, a compound that boost red blood cell levels.
One particularly interesting claim is that the product he took before Stage 7 keeps hematocrit low, but boosts your hemoglobin level. Does anyone know if that's even possible?
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