July 07, 2004
'Doping whistleblower' Manzano missing?
Former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano hasn't been seen or heard from for at least several days.
Manzano's claims of doping encouraged and organized by his Kelme team led Tour organizers to ban Kelme (now Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) from this year's Tour de France.
After his allegations, Manzano signed on with Italy's Amore e Vita team, but the team director has been unable to contact Manzano.
Recognising that Manzano was going through “a very difficult period”, Fanini raised the possibility that something tragic may have occurred. “I’m very worried because of the death threats Manzano received repeatedly after his decision to break the wall of silence that surrounds cycling.”
Fanini added: “I hope my fears are unfounded and I trust the Spanish authorities will do what they can to find out what has happened to Manzano.”
April 05, 2004
Valverde cites 'extra incentive' in Basque win
Speaking after today's stage, Kelme's star racer, Alejandro Valverde, alluded to claims by former teammate Jesus Manzano that the team helped him use performance-enhancing drugs:
"I wanted to do well in this stage because the team is going through a lot of trouble thanks to the statements of a certain gentleman," Valverde said alluding to Manzano's detailed doping allegations within the Kelme squad.
The reigning world championships silver medallist flatly denied Manzano's allegations:
"When we heard about the statements, we were very surprised. But what this gentleman was saying is completely false and we've already started to see the consequences on him and I'm sure that at some point or another, everything will be solved."
Eurosport also notes Joseba Beloki's withdrawal from the race, suggesting Beloki was suffering form cramps.
March 27, 2004
Manzano Day 3: Cyclist's medicine cabinet
Former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano continues his series of articles in AS (en Español) on doping practices Manzano says he participated in while with Kelme. Manzano says he's now received death threats for the accusations.
Friday's revelations focus on some specific substances he says he's used:
Oxyglobin: Oxyglobin is the substance Manzano alluded to on Day 1, when he mentioned a drug that would boost hemoglobin without boosting hematocrit. Looking at the company's web page, linked above, it looks like that's exactly what it does, by circulating freefloating hemoglobin.
Actovegin: Actovegin has been in the news before, when French media claimed to have found it in the trash near the US Postal team hotel during the 2000 Tour de France.
Nandrolone and testosterone: Chemically similar compounds that promote muscle growth, Nandrolone is the substance sprinter Ben Johnson was found to have used.
Cortisone: used as an anti-inflammatory and to speed recovery.
March 26, 2004
Kelme definitively out of the 2004 Tour
Tour organizers say they will NOT offer a 22nd spot in this year's Tour to the Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team, following accusations from Jesus Manzano that the team engaged in widespread doping.
Following the disclosures made by the Spanish rider Jesus Manzano, the organisers of the Tour de France esteem that the element of doubt hanging over the matter no longer permits the formerly contemplated presence of the Kelme – Costa Blanca team at the start of the next Tour de France.
Amaury Sport Organisation, the organizers of the Tour, also will not allow Kelme to ride in the group's other races, including this weekend's Criterium International, for which a riders list is now available.
March 25, 2004
Manzano circus continues
The Manzano saga continues, with more detail, with the latest chapter (en Español) in AS. Today, he details the ways riders use EPO and human growth hormone.
"It's like an open bar when it comes to growth hormones, and you get injected with EPO (erythropoietin) almost every day," said the 25-year-old Spaniard in the second part of his interview with AS.
Manzano claimed he had his red blood cell as high as 56, well above the legal limit of 50, which is itself well above the average even among elite athletes. Manzano said teams evade the tests for EPO by leaving some riders below the legal limits, and sending them first for tests when blood testers come calling. In the meantime, doctors give the riders on EPO blood plasma and glucose products, which Manzano said could quickly lower hematocrit levels by 4 points.
"If it wasnt for EPO I don't think the average speed at major tours would be 41 kph," he said.
Manzano's story continues tomorrow in AS:
"There is also cortisone, nandrolone, synthetic haemoglobin, Actovegin - there are a lot of things to explain, but I'll talk about them in the coming days."
Bizarrely, Manzano's accusations have led to a job offer from the Italian Amore e Vita team: "With us, he will find the values of a clean team."
Quoting Kelme director Vicente Belda:
"[Manzano] is talking nonsense," an irate Vicente Belda, Kelme's team manager, told French sports daily L'Equipe. "He has zero credibility. When we fired him from the team, he swore he was going to exact his revenge."
For an inside look at the effects of performance-enhancing drugs, check out the article and interview linked from this post, by a writer for Outside magazine, who used EPO, HGH, and other performance enhancers, then wrote about the experience.
March 24, 2004
Leblanc: 'doubts' over Manzano claims
Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc says allegations by Jesus Manzano of doping on the Kelme squad last year don't necessarily exclude Kelme from a provisional spot in this year's Tour.
"I can't help but have some doubts over this wave of revelations," said Leblanc.
"They have to be checked and authenticated.
"If in the next few days it turns out that what Manzano said is true or false, we'll act accordingly.
"But my feeling is that mister Manzano is saying whatever he wants."
Manzano has made no secret that he wants revenge on the Kelme team, which released him after last year's Vuelta, allegedly for having sex with a woman in his hotel room during the race.
He also claimed that after putting 3,000 euros toward doping before the Tour, each Kelme rider made 811 euros in prize money from the 2003 Tour.
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?
March 19, 2004
Manzano: I'll provide proof of doping
In an interview with Marca (en Español), former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano says he has revealed doping techniques used by cyclists in a broadcast interview to be aired soon.
Manzano's former teammate Javier Pascual Llorente tested positive for EPO at last year's Tour, and is currently serving an 18-month ban from racing.
Manzano ... said he is "not going to do this like [Philippe] Gaumont" - the former French rider who recently described in detail a number of doping techniques used by cyclists. He said: "Instead I'm actually going to come out with solid proof."
Update: Procycling.com has a more complete and colorful translation of the interview:
The declarations, says today's issue of sports daily Marca, would "make what Philippe Gaumont said a few days ago in France seem like a children’s story".
Asked if he was motivated by thoughts of vengeance, Manzano says: "Yes, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Or, as they say in Colombia: you mess me around and I’ll mess you around… I’m not going to accuse any other rider of anything, this is purely about me, about things that have affected me."