cycling -- doping bombshell!
As reported by Cyclingnews.com -- [also, Saiz was director sportif of ONCE, home of Alex Zulle & Laurent Jalabert...KR]
Saiz arrested on doping charges
The Spanish civil guard has arrested Liberty Seguros manager Manolo Saiz and four others on doping charges. Besides Saiz, the former doctor of Kelme, Eufemiano Fuentes Rodríguez; José Luis Merino, the responsible at an analytical laboratory in Madrid; Alberto Len, a professional mountain bike racer; and José Ignacio Labarta, the assistant sports director of Comunidad Valenciana, were all arrested.
According to Europa Press, Fuentes is accused of doping riders and then 'cleaning' their blood, so that they did not test positive. Fuentes has been under suspicion of doping practices in the past. Manolo Saiz's team lost the 2005 Vuelta a España after captain Roberto Heras tested positive for EPO in the second last stage. Liberty Seguros has neither confirmed nor denied that Saiz has been detained by police.
Also under investigation is the illegal practice of auto-transfusing blood to riders during stage races, which is one of the most difficult doping practices to detect, as it uses the rider's own blood.
The arrests were carried out in the framework of an anti-doping investigation performed by the Unidad Centro Operativo (UCO) in Madrid. It will go to court on May 31.
WOW. Wonder where Alexandre Vinokourov will end up? If this arrest negates his contract, he was heavily courted by Discovery before signing with Saiz' team. He is one of the most fun to watch riders in the Tour. Definately an "animator" a la Pantani who could be a thorn in any Tour favorite's side.
He may be "tainted" by it -- certain teams might ask whether "Vino" is able to perform without enhancement, or (more likely) whether bringing him onboard would increase scrutiny of the team, etc...
I think the genie is out of the bottle on this -- finding ways to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood which translates directly to higher performances seems pretty much entrenched in pro cycling culture...
(my opinion based on 12+ yrs of following the sport)
ALSO OF NOTE -- no dirt road today after all, bummer.
The spanish doping saga unfolds -- this is quoted from Procycling.com:
The fallout from the doping investigation ongoing in Spain has reached the very top of the Giro, where race leader Ivan Basso has denied having any link to a doctors connected to Manolo Saiz.
Giro leader Ivan Basso has denied having any link with doctors connected to Liberty Seguros team boss Manolo Saiz. Reports in the Spanish press on Tuesday morning said that Basso had been working with former ONCE doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, one of five people detained by Spanish police as part of a doping inquiry on Tuesday along with Saiz.
Speaking before the start of the Giro's 17th stage, Basso said of Saiz: "We are good friends. But it's too much to say, without any proof, that doctors within his circle have been involved in my preparation."
Fuentes is reported to be close to Italian training consultant Luigi Cecchini, who has worked with Basso. Basso said of Cecchini: "He is my compatriot and he's a great guy. But I can't say any more about him."
Liberty Seguros immediately terminated its sponsorship of the pro cycling team following the arrest. They apparently inserted a zero-tolerance termination clause covering doping into the contract last year following the Heras case. Perhaps such a clause should be standard boilerplate in every sponsor's contract. You can't pay riders without sponsors, you can't have a team without riders - that's one way to starve the beast.
There is also a rumor that the Spanish authorities found a list during one of their raids of some 200 Spanish and non-Spanish riders linked to doping. Don't know if I trust this rumor yet - but this incident is surely going to unfold some more and may take down a few well-known pros too.
will the *real* peloton please stand up! Over at procycling.ccom they have replayed some of the more selacious but unproven aspects of this affair!
Personally, and its a shame to think, I feel the likelyhood is the vast bulk of top end riders use these varied techniques at various times.
You dont have to list too many names and these shadowy docs to see that its barely more than "6-degrees kevin bacon" sort of thing.
Cecchini: Riis, Tyler Hamilton, now Ullrich and Basso (both use him)
Ferrari: armstrong, pantani and many others
They all know and work with the same docs, and half of them have been caught over time, or there's been strong evidence of suspicion...
I personally think the REAL underlying problem is there are too many conflicts of interest to really eradicate things.
First you have the riders that are looking for that "one good ride" in the right race to secure good wage and contracts.
Second, you have DSs that need to build a team and attract sponsorship money.
Then you have the race organizers that need to interest television, radio, internet and print media with epic sporting events.
The only folks out really are the sponsors ... and they seem to have the weakest hand. The zero tolerance probably doesn't quite work because there are too many special cases... you know the "one bad egg" syndrome will always temp a sponsor with a winning team to stay the course.. PEOPLE WANT TO BELIEVE! its that simple.
i have to admit, i haven't a clue what the answer is...
Wow, the news just keeps coming. Basso out, Ullrich out, Mancebo out, Vino's whole team out! It hurts, but it's probably the only right thing to do. The upside is NO AMERICANS (not counting the retired already disgraced Tyler Hamilton) were implicated. Given this news, sure looks like Landis, Leipheimer, Hincapie, and outside shot Dave Zabriskie have got to be amongst the new favorites to win the whole thing. Only Euros who have a chance against them are Valverde (so far clean), Rasmussen (can't TT), Popovych (same team as Big George). I'm disappointed because I was really looking forward to seeing Basso and Ullrich go head-to-head - but I'm also excited because it would be great to see a new American at the top.
I was away for a week, away from the phone, the internet and TV and -- I get back and read about this!? I was slinging hammers for Habitat last week deep in the heart of WV -- and the only thing on my mind was how much rain we could take before packing in.
So -- where are we NOW!? Hincapie in YELLOW! Alright!
Doping -- oh, the scourge of it. I am shocked at the depth of this one...
And now Valverde, broken collar bone, another favorite out!
I tell you, if I was in better shape and had my passport up to date, this might be my year! Well, maybe not. Looks to me that it will be hard to keep a couple Americans off the podium this year.
Who is left of the typical set named of potential big tour contenders?
- Garzelli ?
Of them, if Mayo can keep himself out of the "spanish" affair, he was a podium finisher 2 seasons ago and was right up there with lance on the big climbs...
Most of the others are relative unknowns on the le tour side, Moreau, he's been consistent over the years. Maybe with a "clean" tour, let's say he's always been clean... maybe he can be at the front?
Most of the italians are Giro guys, never showing well at the tour...
It's pretty dang open!
did i miss anyone?
Oh perhaps I should add Julich, a relative weak 3rd place during the "Festina Affair"... will a clean field put him up at the top end?