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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for March 27, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

Manzano's laundry list

In the third installment of his tell-all interview with Spanish paper AS, Jesus Manzano offered still more specific details supporting his claim that his former Kelme team was engaged in systematic use of doping products. While the Kelme management has formally denied Manzano's claims, the Spaniard has painstakingly outlined the specific substances and methods he says he has used personally.

Oxyglobin, Actovegin, and Nandralone are just a few of the substances Manzano describes, substances that came in a variety of strengths and from different sources. Oxyglobin, for example, was cited by Manzano as a substance designed for animals, while its counterpart Hemopure is designed for humans. It was Oxyglobin that Manzano says he used twice in 2003, once at the Spanish national time trial championships and once at the Tour de France, on the ill-fated day he became sick and crashed out of the race while in a break with Richard Virenque. A product used to boost performance within the period of a day, Manzano explained how he used it in the Tour de France, and how detection was not a major concern.

"The vampires [the UCI's pre-race blood testers] either come in the morning or they don't come at all, so you can use this later and have the effect throughout the stage," Manzano told AS. "By the time you finish, it's been absorbed since it's not a long-lasting product."

Nonetheless, as he described in his earlier interviews, improper use of any given substance could lead to dire results.

"What happens is it can sit well with you, or it can sit badly, because we're talking about an animal product," he said. "You can't give a person the whole quantity, you have to calculate the right amount based on weight. It's often used for dogs with anemia and cases like that."

Manzano considers his exit from the 2003 Tour to be the result of a result of poorly executed blood transfusions involving the use of Oxyglobin.

"Actovegin gas bus"

Actovegin, another animal product, is essentially the plasma of a young calf. Manzano noted that the product he used was came from Germany and was quite expensive, referred to in cycling as the "gas bus", meaning it was used for particularly difficult races or stages. Actovegin is said to oxygenate the blood and provide a significant boost in power over a short time.

"In the short time trials it was used in the morning, but for difficult stages where there would be a lot of attacks, it was injected the previous day," Manzano explained. "When preparing for a time trial the 'gas bus' is combined with bicarbonate, lactic acid, and a brand of caffeine that is injected in the buttocks, which by the way, really hurts."

Cortisone

Former Cofidis professional Philippe Gaumont described his use of Cortisone in his own confession of how he avoided doping controls during competition, noting in one instance that he would scratch his testicles with salt to cause an inflammation which in turn would allow him to receive a prescription for a topical solution. This could be justified in light of doping controls, but instead of the ointment prescribed, different forms of the drug were used to enhance performance.

Manzano also described his use of Cortisone, echoing some of Gaumont's descriptions of a sort of bait and switch tactic, whereby permission is gained for the use of Cortisone to treat a non-existent problem, clearing the way for elevated levels which will likely be detected in the doping controls.

Manzano also noted the differences in regulation between various countries, specifically France and Spain, where different levels of the substance prompt positive test results. Cortisone, like other substances, also comes in a variety of forms, some topical, others by injection, and according to Manzano, a French version which is taken in tablet form. He insists that mixing the various forms is not advised since they are of different chemical compositions. However it seems every drug has its code word in the peloton, meaning white Cortisone tablets were not to be confused with "whites", or caffeine tablets.

"There are many forms of Cortisone," Manzano said, "we could sit here for a week talking about them."

Nandralone

Just as Manzano previous described EPO as a tool used in training, given recent developments in identifying EPO in doping tests, he outlined the use of Nandralone as a training helper. He noted commercial brands such as Deca Druabolin from Argentina or Greece, either in injection form or as tablets. "They can be white, yellow, or red," he said, referring to what he also saw as clandestine production of the drug in Spain.

"People say that Nandralone is used in competition, but really it's used in the winter," Manzano added. "It's for training in the gym. You work out in the gym and Nandralone helps you... You can start taking Nandralone in October, because if you take too much while you're on the bike it can block you. It reduces power. It's more for the gym... used for building muscle."

Manzano noted that the tablet form was less effective than injections, but also less expensive. Use of Nandralone would often be tapered around December, depending upon the timing of a rider's objectives in the coming season.

Manzano's experiences also include the use of testosterone and human growth hormones. All told, he offered a veritable laundry list of substances to boost performance both in and out of competition, which he feels was directed by his employers. "I insist on what I said the other day," he concluded. "All of the EPOs can give a positive result, and if there is one doctor who orders you to take it and another who doesn't, what do you do? If I disobeyed and didn't ride, I'd be out on the street."

Manzano has no doubt ruffled quite a few feathers with his allegations, and fears for his own safety now that the story has gone public. "I don't know how long I am going to live," he said. "Threats have come from people who didn't want this to come to light. It's all been kept quiet because of money."

Leblanc takes firm stand

Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc has taken a pull-no-punches stand against the Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team in light of Jesus Manzano's sweeping allegations of drug use within the team. Leblanc and the Amaury Sport Organisation issued a statement Friday afternoon indicating that Kelme would not receive an invitation to the 2004 Tour de France, which was offered 'in waiting' pending clarification of the team's financial status. Now Kelme is not just out of the Tour, but all races organised by ASO.

Leblanc decided to weigh the information emerging through Manzano's allegations rather than make a snap decision when the story first broke Wednesday, but ultimately determined that the credibility of the team was in too much doubt.

"Even if this is a matter of one rider, it's clear that he had help, either passive or active, from his directeur sportif or team doctor," Leblanc told Reuters on the eve of the Critérium International in northeastern France. "He may have exaggerated, but when I read the list of substances and the methods for using them, it's not possible that he did all of this on his own."

For Leblanc, the extent to which Manzano detailed the alleged doping within the team went beyond mere speculation.

"Even if only 10 or 20 percent of this were true, that would be 10 or 20 percent too much," he added.

"The UCI has asked the Spanish federation to start an investigation. That's the bare minimum, and I hope we'll soon know a little more. But for us, it's finished for the Kelme team and we won't offer an invitation to any other team. That's a firm message for the others."

Tour doctor saw no signs of doping

Manzano out
Photo: © Olympia

Gérard Porte, head doctor at the Tour de France, offered his own assessment of Jesus Manzano's condition the day he crashed out of the Tour in 2003. Porte was on the scene attending to Manzano at the time of the accident, but considers his symptoms to be consistent with heat exhaustion, saying the Spaniard showed no tell-tale signs of drug use. Nonetheless, some questions remain.

"It was an inexplicable illness," Porte admitted, quoted in a l'Equipe report. "It's hard to understand how a rider that well trained could get that sick. But there were no particular signs that made us think of anything else. His condition was satisfactory. The cardiac exam we did in the ambulance didn't reveal any problems with his heart rate and he wasn't hypoglycaemic.

Porte added that Manzano's temperature of 39 degrees Celsius was in line with a diagnosis of heat exhaustion. "Manzano showed no signs of any sort of doping," he said. "Plus he recovered very quickly and was out of the hospital that same night."

O'Neill shifts his goals

Nathan O'Neill (Colavita Olive Oil) could not make it to this year's Redlands Bicycle Classic where he lead the Saturn domination in 2003. After taking the win in the uphill prologue last year, O'Neill joined his two teammates, Chris Horner and Tom Danielson in taking 12 minutes out of the rest of the peloton in one stage.

After a bad crash at Tour de Toona last year, O'Neill was out with a broken neck. In January he came back in fine form to win the Australian National Time Trial Championships by over 2 minutes, but in Valley of the Sun, O'Neill crashed again and landed on his knee, which resulted in more time off the bike. Cyclingnews caught up with O'Neill to find out just how bad his injury is and how it has affected his plans for the season.

"With my knee it's a residual injury left over from the crash I had at Valley of the Sun," O'Neill said. "It's not super serious but it was hard to diagnose. Now, we finally know what is."

Typically, people have what is known as plica, a skin that encapsulates the fluid in the joint, on the inside of the knee. In rare cases it's on the outside. "We just found out that mine is on the outside," O'Neill explained, "which is the reason this fall made the knee flare up. It got to the point where I could hardly stand, but now that we know what it is, we are treating it and I'm able to ride again."

O'Neill has only taken about 10 days completely off the bike, but between Valley of the Sun and now, he hasn't really been able to do more than a two and a half hour ride. "I've been given the go ahead to train now and I really want to start testing it. If it doesn't cope with the workload I'll have to have surgery," he said.

For O'Neill, who is a contender for the time trial position at the Olympics, this injury has been a considerable setback. "There's no question that I'm not going to be in the condition I would like to have been for [the Tour de Georgia]," he explained. "I've resigned myself to the fact that I probably won't be an overall contender there, which is very hard to accept. So I will try to go for a stage win.

"The season is long, but a lot of my goals were early in the year," added O'Neill. "Georgia was really the only chance I had to do anything to be selected for the time trial position for Athens. So I have had to shift my goals. Philadelphia and the Tour de Beauce are now really important for me."

On the bright side, O'Neill is also looking forward to doing all the races at the end of the year that he wasn't able to do last year due to a broken neck after his crash at Tour de Toona.

"Who knows, this could be a blessing in disguise," he said. "It's been a disastrous season for me so far, but I'm ready to move on. The team has been a great support to me and there's been no pressure from this end."

About his chances to make the Olympics team after all this, O'Neill says he "fairdinkum, just doesn't know."

Surgery for Da Cruz

Carlos Da Cruz, injured in Milan-San Remo last weekend, underwent surgery in Paris Wednesday to correct a fractured scaphoid. Thought also to have fractured a vertebrae, Da Cruz did not require surgery for his back, though he will remain out of action for about a month to let the injuries heal.

Illes Balears-Banesto helps drug addicts

This weekend, the Illes Balears-Banesto team will take part in the cycling weekend organized together by the Conselleria de Cooperación Local y Deportes del Consell Insular de Menorca, the delegation in Menorca of the Federación de Ciclismo de las Islas Baleares and the Fundacion Proyecto Hombre in Menorca.

On Saturday, March 27, Toni Colom will meet with fans do discuss, "From amateurism to professionalism". On Sunday morning he will take part in the traditional mass participation cycling event organised by the Foundation that helps people with drug addictions.

TIAA-CREF opportunity for Little 500 competitor

The 5280 Magazine/TIAA-CREF Cycling Team, the U.S. development squad run by Jonathan Vaughters, is giving the opportunity to a young rider from Indiana University to train and race with the team this season. The TIAA-CREF MVP award will be given to a rider taking part in the men's Little 500 on April 24, with the recipient announced immediately after the race. The finalists for the award are expected to be named this weekend.

"Finalists will be determined based on race resumes," said Little 500 race director Rob Rhamy to Indiana University's website. "Jonathan Vaughters will select the winner based on their Little 500 race day performance. The rider will need to be under the age of 23 as well as have a solid background in United States Cycling Federation racing."

The MVP award will provide the rider with an opportunity to attend team training camps and compete to earn a spot on the team.

Little 500 is in its 54th year in 2004 and is best known for featuring in the Academy Award-winning film, Breaking Away, 25 years ago.

Tour de Delta doubles prize money

The Tour De Delta in Canada (July 16-18) has announced that this year's event will feature double the usual prize money to $20,000, making it the richest three day event in Canadian cycling. The race is part of BC Superweek, which includes the Tour de Gastown (July 21) and Tour de White Rock (July 23-25), and riders will be competing for prize purses totaling $40,000.

"The goal of the Tour de Delta board of directors is to create an international calibre stage race," said Race Director, John McMurchy. "Increasing the prize money will attract more professional cyclists and establish the Tour de Delta and BC Superweek on the North American race calendar."

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