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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Letters to Cyclingnews - Special edition - May 26, 2006

The world of pro cycling was shocked to hear the announcement of Manolo Saiz's arrest for alleged doping infringements after an investigation by the Spanish Civil Guard. Readers have already expressed their disappointment in the situation, and below is an example of the sentiment this latest scandal has provoked.

Cyclingnews readers are encouraged to express their opinions on these developments, which can easily be done by emailing your correspondence to

Recent letters

Say it ain't so, Manolo
Say it isn't so
Spanish Federations' reaction to Saiz
The doping scandal to end them all


Say it ain't so, Manolo

Did you know Microsoft office tries to change Manolo to Manhole? And tries to change Saiz into Says? As in, Manhole Says "I am going to toss my team down a manhole into the sewer." We can only hope and wish and beg to whatever deity it is you consider hallow, he is not guilty but it's not looking good. Toting a suitcase full of cash on the way to a meeting with dope dealers? In the public safety world I work in, that is considered to be pretty much a slam dunk.

I have no doubt some lawyers will make so much cash out of this one defending him that the 60,000 Euros in his briefcase is going to be equivalent to the loose change your typical everyday American cycling fan digs out of their couch cushions to pay for premium cable to watch the latest truncated coverage of great, historic cycling races. Crappy, unskilled, amateur, old cycling racers such as myself live vicariously through guys such as Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen would say; "the hardmen of cycling, digging into their suitcase of courage".

Yeah, I know, I know, not all cyclists are dopers, other sports are worse; Barry Bonds is a sad juicer, blah, blah, blah...well I for one do not really care about other sports. Cycling is our sport; parties at our house (The Dog Ranch, which includes my beautiful wife who is much better racer than I am) show Paris-Roubaix, the Tour, Giro, Flanders...but the World Series or Superbowl? Our TV does not know what those sports are.

Am I done with cycling? Of course not - in my household with the garage that has eight bikes, two trainers, 10 sets of extra wheels, a Lion of Flanders flag, Posters from numerous Ride for the Roses (we live in the land of Lance no less), we do not give up (that's just the garage, the autographed Eddie Merckx trading card has the place of honour in the living room). We curse the guilty; eventually forgive the transgressors who admit to wrong doing (still pissed at Virenque, though) and fight the good fight.

So, we will continue to drive nine hours to go to a crit, we will still volunteer to be course marshals and ride with kids to introduce them to the greatest sport in the world. We will continue to donate our time and money to worthy causes such as the Kelley Davidson Foundation and we won't let the dopers get us down. Sure, we'll gossip and cuss about them and we will feel sorry for Vino (if I was Saiz, I would stay out of dark alleys for a while, there might be some folks waiting to discuss some issues with you).

Farewell, but not goodbye by any means...'Hook 'em Horns'.

Jason T. Martin

Thursday, May 25, 2006

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Say it isn't so

I'm sitting in my office today, instead of watching the glorious stage 17 of the Giro. I don't mean that I wanted to watch it on television, but I took two days off work to drive up the few hours and experience this stage in person. I got my new bike put together last weekend, just in time for the stages in the Dolomites. But here I sit, in front of my computer.

It was the Cyclingnews flash yesterday regarding the arrests for alleged doping in Spain that prevented me from departing. I won't even watch this stage live on television today. I don't yet know how I feel, but I'm sure that the "oh please, say it isn't so" response I've previously had with respect to individual riders getting caught will no longer suffice.

I'm disgusted to my core, and I seem to have suddenly lost the close personal connection with the professional peloton that I have felt since I first started riding and racing. I held on to this connection from the Festina affair till now, even through the Athens Olympics, but the bad news and doubts have built up to the breaking point. I suspect that if pro cycling loses me, they will also have lost many, many more of us tifosi as well.

The money, if that is what it is, that makes it attractive to dope will disappear along with our interest in pro cycling, if indeed more of us cannot even bear to watch an epic stage as the one taking place today. We watch the Giro not for the distance or the speed, but for the human element involved in cycling competition - we want a winner to display more than ability or discipline; we know that it also takes a depth of character, heart and soul, to win such stages.

Remember Andy Hampsten's Giro win? Remember Greg in front of the broom wagon at the Tour de Trump, then winning at the Tour de France and that epic World's? Weren't they more special before doping suspicions entered our consciousness? Isn't it unfair to clean riders of the current generation, who might make more income but must endure such doubts from fans? Lance is one of these current heroes, and I even still hope Tyler is as well.

Sponsors, heads of cycling federations, team owners, managers, director sportifs, soigneurs, team doctors, race organisers, and even riders take note - we are all fed up and disgusted with the few [or many] who dope and ruin our love of this sport. We will continue to ride, but will give up on you and your business if you don't prove to us that the sport is clean.

For those of you who do watch today's stage, think how much more emotional you would be without the doubts about doping. Maybe later I will feel better, having gotten this off my chest, but I have already missed being there in person, and even now I only plan to watch again when I know that all of the heroes who challenge the finish of such epic stages as today's are clean. Ivan, Gilberto, Paolo, Jan - for what you will do today you should deserve respect without doubts.

Michael Stechow
Wednesday, May 24 2006

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Spanish Federations' reaction to Saiz

Dear Cyclingnews,

The response by the Spanish cycling federations to the doping allegations involving Saiz, Fuentes, and co. reveals the attitude towards doping at the highest levels of the sport. Taken from your May 24, 2006 news feature, Fulgencio Sanchez of the Spanish Cycling Federation weighs in: "We don't want this sort of thing for the image of cycling, because this is what damages us. For what reason we deserve this, I don't know." And Jose Rodriguez, of the Association of Professional Cyclists: "It's bad news for's news that blurs a good season so far." Communidad Valencia boss Vicente Belda declares, "This is a stab in the back for cycling."

They are all concerned about the image of cycling and the effect this investigation will have on that image. There is no mention of the health risks involved in doping, or the desire for a level field for competition in the pro peloton, or the necessity of holding our sports superstars, many of whom are role models to young kids, to high moral standards. There is no support of the investigation or any impetus by these high ranking officials to eradicate doping.

While we must maintain the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise, it would be comforting if any of the Spanish cycling officials had expressed any devotion to the anti-doping crusade. Are they so naive to think that doping can be concealed forever? And once the extent of doping is revealed, don't they understand that they will be roasted over the coals for failing to do anything about it? The public outcry once people understand how doping has been allowed to continue in cycling will be far greater than the public response to a doping scandal.

This unwillingness at the highest levels to clean up cycling is exactly the problem. Greater value is placed on self-preservation than on making cycling a legitimate and clean sport. It is not surprising then, that the Spanish government, the courts, and the Civil Guard, were the ones who implemented this investigation because the federations themselves are unwilling to clean up their own sport. I too would like to see cycling prosper, but only once it is a clean sport, if that can ever be achieved.

David Collier
New York City

Thursday, May 25, 2006

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The doping scandal to end them all

I'm no longer surprised by these scandals, I expect someone else to have been caught every day I log into

What really irritates me about this is the hypocrisy of Manolo Saiz; he's apparently just gone into a cafe with 60,000 euros and come out with a cool bag of something completely different. Is this the same guy who jumped to the defence of Roberto Heras, the same guy who openly negotiated with Liberty Mutual even after the Heras scandal, the same guy who signed up to the Pro Tour. If Heras had any chance at an appeal, that's gone too.

Can I appeal to the professional cycling community, sit up and come clean. An alcoholic has to admit their problem to themselves before they can get over it and put their lives back on track; guess what pro cycling needs to do the same, now?

There is talk that this could be bigger than the Festina affair, if it makes cycling take a look at itself then great.

The doping scandal to end all doping scandals - until the next one.

Donald Young
Stonehaven, Scotland

Thursday, May 25, 2006

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Recent letters pages

Letters 2006

  • May 19: Bettini is consistent, Banning of altitude tents, Hypoxic tents, WADA and altitude tents, Latest WADA crusade, WADA bans another, Congrats to Jan, Criticism of Jan Ullrich, Jan bashing, Jan ready for the Tour, Jan's good form, Armstrong - the New American Idol, The same old Lance, Defeatism in Discovery, Giro reactions, One of Savoldelli's secrets, Rasmussen's time trial position, Riders under helmets, Difference between following and leading, The Tour and the TT, Bruyneel's Giro comments, When disqualification isn't enough
  • May 12: Marion Clignet, Bruyneel's Giro comments, Criticism of Jan Ullrich, Jan bashing, Jan's weight, Defeatism in Discovery, Lance talking up Basso, The same old Lance, Rasmussen's time trial position, Giro team time trial, Hincapie in Paris-Roubaix, Riders under helmets
  • May 5: Criticism of Jan, Criticism of Ullrich, The Ullrich-bashing bandwagon, Ullrich in 2006, Jan dramas, More Jan dramas, Bruyneel's Giro comments, Team helmets, Volunteering at bike races, Hincapie in Paris-Roubaix
  • April 28: Working for the team in Georgia, Ullrich's thick skin, Ullrich and the 2006 Tour, Jan Ullrich racing, Ullrich and THAT wheel, Jan Ullrich, Jan dramas, Paris-Roubaix technology, Hincapie in Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Roubaix controversy, Paris-Roubaix comments, Paris-Roubaix tech, Team helmets
  • April 21: Paris-Roubaix final say, Paris-Roubaix controversy, Paris-Roubaix and technology, George and the fork issue, Quotable quotes, Cycling technology, Behaving like a champion, Paris-Roubaix: UCI Code of Ethics
  • April 14: Continuing to behave like a champion, No curse of the rainbow jersey, Tom Boonen, Hang in there, Saul, The gods of cycling, Trek and Paris-Roubaix, Looking out for George, Paris-Roubaix and technology, Broken forks and broken dreams, Jan Ullrich, Jan dramas, Disqualifications, So you know, Paris - Roubaix, THAT railway crossing incident, Need for consistency, Paris-Roubaix - poor Cancellara, Paris Roubaix disqualification, Paris-Roubaix: setting a good example, Roubaix disqualification decision, UCI Roubaix disgrace, Paris Roubaix disqualification, Paris Roubaix affair, Paris-Roubaix fiasco, Paris-Roubaix sham, Racing's railroad crossings, George's bike failure, Let them race, Roubaix controversy
  • April 12 (Special Paris Roubaix edition): Paris-Roubaix disqualification, Disqualification on the pave, Level crossing in Paris-Roubaix, Rules are rules, Paris-Roubaix, McQuaid's reasoning, Pat McQuaid and train barriers, Railway crossing at Paris-Roubaix, Disqualifications in Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Roubaix crossing, Roubaix controversy, Grade crossings, Railroad crossings, Safety at Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Roubaix sham, Paris-Roubaix safety, Paris-Roubaix rail crossing, Boonen and friends cross the tracks, McQuaid's explanation, Roubaix disqualification decision
  • April 7: Hang in there Saul, De Ronde parcours, Edwig van Hooydonk, Discovery’s American riders, Tom Boonen, April fools, Hair care product line, Brave new world, Commonwealth Games time trial, Photo of the year
  • March 31: Discovery’s American riders, Photo of the year, Commonwealth Games time trial, Edwig van Hooydonk
  • March 24: Discovery’s American riders, Samantha Hellyer, Commonwealth Games time trial, UCI needs to grow up, Licensed riders in non-sanctioned events, Strong for the Tour, Electronic shifting
  • March 17: Guess who I am, Floyd Landis, The next Lance, The race I'm watching, EPO test and credibility, Blood doping detection and altitude training, Electronic shifting, Electronic Dura Ace, Discovery’s American riders, Petacchi - Shiva
  • March 13: The race I'm watching, Tour of California, Floyd Landis, Rory Sutherland and clomiphene, Rory Sutherland, Tyler Hamilton, Effect of doping on young cyclists, EPO test and credibility, Winter Olympics and Cyclocross, Cyclocross in the winter Olympics, Electronic Dura Ace, Big Jan Ullrich
  • March 3: Tour of California, Sanctions for doping, UCI/WADA, Tyler Hamilton and Roberto Heras, Tyler Hamilton, Hamilton and testing, Blood doping detection and altitude training, Serrano, Drug testing, Tour of California, Laurie Schmidtke, Our wonderful sport!, Leave Jan alone, T-Mobile and Ullrich, Tour 2006
  • February 24: Tyler Hamilton, Tyler Hamilton and Roberto Heras, Sanctions for doping, Drug testing, Doping, Culture of denial, Tour 2006, Ullrich and the 2006 tour, T-Mobile, Ullrich and Godefroot, Davitamon-Lotto outfits, Pantani
  • February 17: Tyler Hamilton, Hamilton's decision, Culture of denial, Drug testing, Pantani, Support for Mark French, Heras' positive doping results, EPO, Bergman, Sanctions for doping, Ben Kersten, Hour record, Davitamon circus clowns, Team CSC at Solvang, Ullrich and the 2006 Tour, Confused about doping
  • February 10: Ullrich and the 2006 Tour, Too early to call the Tour, AIS crash verdict, Punishment for the death of Amy Gillett, Women's cycling, Support for Mark French, Michael Rassmussen, More Kilo and 500m TT argument, Liberty Seguros at Tour Down Under, Hour record, Sanctions for doping
  • February 3: International teams, Liberty Seguros at Tour Down Under, Anti-doping tactics, Ullrich and the 2006 Tour, Too early to call the Tour, Tour of California, Phonak training camp feature, Aussie national champs, More Kilo and 500m TT argument, McQuaid and the UCI, Australian championships, Support for Mark French, Sanctions for doping, Women's cycling, Team strip
  • January 24: Future of Spanish cycling, Australian championships, Aussie national champs - a deserved winner, Aussie nationals, World champion kit, Ullrich and the 2006 Tour, With Lance gone, Some observations on Oz, PCA suing Dick Pound, International teams
  • January 17: EGO Mania, Basso: seeing double, Aussie nationals, Australian championships, Russell Mockridge, PCA suing Dick Pound, USA cycling, World champion kit, The future, Some observations on Oz
  • January 6: The Tour hypocrisy, Pat McQuaid, McQuaid, Bart Wellens, Urine testing, Dope so you can
  • January 3: That damn Lance, Bart Wellens, Cyclists in South Australia, EGO Mania, King Pound, Urine testing for rEPO, The Tour hypocrisy, Dope so you can, Give McQuaid a chance, Elimination Tour de France
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