First Edition Cycling News for June 26, 2006
Edited by Hedwig Kröner
Spanish media uncover Operación Puerto investigation details
By Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Antonio J. Salmerón
Spanish newspaper El País has revealed details from the ongoing
investigation of the latest doping scandal in cycling, "Operación Puerto".
After getting a hold of confidential judicial documents, the paper published
three pages of inside information, according to which Eufemiano Fuentes
as well as Manolo Saiz were the heads of a criminal network that supplied
"treated" blood and numerous doping products to 58 national and international
elite cyclists, amongst which 15 were from the former Liberty Seguros
According to the investigation documents, the criminal network comprised
the following persons: Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, Manolo Saiz (manager
of former team Liberty Seguros), José Luis Merino (Chief of Haematology
of Madrid hospital La Princesa), José Ignacio Labarta (assistant director
of team Comunidad Valenciana) and Alberto León Herranz (former cyclist
and supposedly a courier in the network).
In the secret court testimony by Manolo Saiz, the former team manager
(who still holds more than half of the company that now manages team Astana-Würth)
reportedly admitted that his team began to work with Eufemiano Fuentes
in March 2004, but on "the insistence of Roberto Heras". Later, more cyclists
requested the collaboration of Eufemiano and Sáiz, but this relation was
cut short after the 2005 Dauphiné Libéré, in which Isidro Nozal exceeded
the UCI-imposed value of 50 for haematocrit.
"I have a debt with Eufemiano, but I did not pay it due to the case
of Nozal," Sáiz explained to the judge according to El País . "I
owed him 60,000 Euros, but only for his advice." Spanish investigators
also seem to have established a link between the Madrid network and professional
cyclists riding the Giro d'Italia in May: a courier presumably came to
Madrid before the first mountain stage to transport bags of blood.
The forbidden substances found during the anti-doping raid included
EPO, growth hormone and anabolic steroids, but also other products. In
the two Madrid laboratories searched, Guardia Civil investigators found
"a great variety of refrigerated pharmaceutical products, some prohibited
in Spain and produced in Eastern European countries like the growth hormone
Jintropin, which is illegally produced in China and distributed in the
Also found were accountancy tables, presumably used to book the transactions.
For example, one table "created by the accused" featured the initials
"B L K", and right next to them the sum "450 Euros". Names like "Guri,
Jorge, Zapatero, Etxebarria" were listed, with various monetary sums and
the columns entitled "payment made" and "yet to pay".
The criminal network also managed the treatment of large quantities
of blood for autotransfusion. Using pharmaceutical and mechanical means,
the bags of blood were "washed" and "concentrated in red blood cells."
These services allegedly cost the cyclists €40,000 annually. Haematologist
José Luis Merino even asked the Spanish military forces to supply him
with 50 boxes of physiological serum to wash the blood, and received great
quantities of glycerol to conserve the frozen blood from public transfusion
centres - all of which were furnished to him in good faith.
"The offer [to Merino] of the washing solution was made to prevent us
from having to destroy it before its expiry date," said Juan Manuel Montero
of the Spanish Armed Forces. "And it was delivered to him with the firm
conviction that it would be put to use in the hospital of La Princesa,
given that the personnel and the vehicle that collected the 50 boxes belonged
to that centre."
Spanish championships not ridden after rider protest
No more than 500 metres were ridden by the Spanish professionals in
their national road championships in Móstoles, near Madrid. The majority
of the riders decided to stop in protest after El Pais published
some confidential information regarding "Operacion Puerto", which implicated
58 cyclists in the biggest doping affair ever to hit Spanish sport. Among
those implicated were several riders from the Astaná-Würth team, as well
as its former manager Manolo Sáiz, and also the ex-director of the Comunidad
Valenciana team, Ignacio Labarta.
"The decision was unanimous, because we are not prepared to undergo
this orchestrated harassment," said one cyclist. The riders held a meeting
before the race, and voted to stop. They were supported by the president
of the Association of Professional Cyclists, José Rodríguez, although
the Spanish Federation, which also took part in the meeting, did not support
The Spanish Federation issued a press statement offering its "excuses
to the cities of Móstoles, Arroyomolinos and Moraleja de Enmedio, as well
as the organizers of the championships... RFEC and its championships have
been the victims of the decision taken by the riders to strike, which
we did not share. In any case, the Spanish federation will continue to
bend over backwards, as it always has done, in defense of the rights of
Given that no race was ridden, Juan Manuel Garate (Quick.Step) will
keep the Spanish champion's jersey.
Courtesy of Antonio J. Salmerón
May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy
LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
Former Tour de France champion Greg LeMond has given French L'Equipe
newspaper an exclusive interview, published on Sunday, June 25, 2006,
in which the American has taken a stand against Lance Armstrong, the UCI
and the Vrijman report. LeMond said that Lance Armstrong has threatened
him for having criticised the seven-time race winner's collaboration with
Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari. LeMond, who won the Tour de France
in 1986, 1989, 1990, said that he was pressured by Armstrong in 2001 after
saying that he was disappointed at the Texan's association with the controversial
"Lance threatened me," he said. "He threatened my wife, my business,
my life. His biggest threat consisted of saying that he (Armstrong) would
find ten people to testify that I took EPO."
In the interview, LeMond continued by holding the UCI responsible for
their failure to deal with the problem of doping. "This problem goes beyond
Armstrong," he said. "The Spanish scandal is another example, the entire
system is corrupt, the UCI is corrupt."
LeMond also referred to the Vrijman report, named after the expert commissioned
by the UCI to probe the L'Equipe allegations of doping against
Armstrong. "The report should have come from WADA or the French Ministry
of Health," he said. "But it doesn't change anything if you catch a rider
because Lance is now retired and it continues." LeMond added that Armstrong
as a person was consumed with ambition: "He needs power - with money,
or with women. He will never find happiness."
June 27, 2006 - Carmichael
defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond:
"Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006
- Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer
asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation
Zabel out for 7th Green jersey
In the absence of Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel will be the sole leader
of Team Milram in the upcoming Tour de France. The 35 year-old will be
joined by teammates Marco Velo, Fabio Sacchi, Mirko Celestino, Marco Velo,
Maxim Iglinsky, Andrei Grivko, as well as fellow Germans Ralf Grabsch,
Christian Knees and Bjorn Schröder.
"It's our goal to battle it out for the green jersey," said Zabel, who
already won the jersey of best sprinter six times in the past. It will
be his 12th Tour de France.
Agritubel for Tour de France
Only hours after the French National Championships, Continental Pro
team Agritubel has announced its rider line-up for the Tour de France,
starting less than one week from now from Strasbourg. The team invited
by Tour organiser ASO will focus on its climbers, with the nominated five
Spanish and four French riders averaging 28 years of age. The riders are:
Juan-Miguel Mercado, Manuel Calvente, Cédric Coutouly, Moises Duenas,
Eduardo Gonzalo, Christophe Laurent, José-Alberto Martinez, Samuel Plouhinec
and Benoît Salmon.
Quick.Step contract news
Team Quick.Step has announced that Wouter Weylandt will stay with the
Belgian squad for the next two seasons (2007-2008). The young Belgian
rider has signed his contract yesterday evening before the Belgian
National Championship. Also Serge Baguet will ride next season (2007)
with the team.
Yesterday, June 24, the team management has reached an agreement with
the Under 23 Italian rider Davide Malacarne, winner of 2005 Junior Cross
World Championship. The 19 year-old will continue to ride with Zalf Desiree
Fior team in the U23 league for the next two seasons, but will join Patrick
Lefévčre’s squad from 2009 until 2011.
Haselbacher and the bee
By Susan Westemeyer
René Haselbacher had hoped to make the breakthrough this year, and finally
replace his reputation of a crash pilot with that of a winner. He thought
he was on the right path, winning the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt, and assuming
that would be his ticket to the Tour de France. But the team management
decided to go with climbers instead of sprinters, and he was left off
the Tour team for the second year in a row.
He probably figured that winning the Austrian
road championship would be a good way to soothe his pride and show
the team what he was capable of. Right? Well, things just don't work out
that way for "Hasi".
On Saturday, he was out training and reported later on his personal
website, "Something flew into my mouth. I didn't think anything of it,
but shortly thereafter my throat started to swell up." A trip to the emergency
room ensued. "It was unbelievable. The doctor pulled a stinger out of
my throat. Luckily I'm not allergic, but my whole neck is all swollen."
Haselbacher was better on Sunday morning to ride, but not good enough
for the competition. He started, but didn't finish the race.
SBS Tour de France ride through Sydney
Australia TV broadcaster is organising a special Tour de France ride
through Sydney on Friday, June 30, at 7am. The meeting point will be Café
Latteria (320 Victoria St. Darlinghurst), for a stroll through the CBD
out to The Rocks, flanked by SBS vehicles all the way. The first 25 participants
to gather will receive a branded Nike jersey, whereas the first 25 riders
back at Café Latteria after the ride (about 7.45am) will get a free breakfast.
Project Rwanda launches Wooden Bike Classic
In December 2005, Tom Ritchey and Gary Boulanger, directors of Servant
Leaders Outreach (takeitslo.blogspot.com),
toured Rwanda by mountain bike. A short DVD documentary was filmed to
capture their Rwandan experience, the first for both. The trip opened
their eyes to the beauty of the people and the need to assist Rwanda in
its continuing reconciliation 12 years after the genocide that killed
nearly one million people in 100 days.
By February 2006, "Project Rwanda" was established, and a strong board
of directors was formed. Despite Africa’s reputation as a needful continent
rife with government corruption and political red tape, Project Rwanda
has seen opportunities become reality by bringing to life September’s
"Wooden Bike Classic" event, intended to connect Rwandans with the outside
bicycling world community.
"Project Rwanda’s vision is to further the economic development of Rwanda
through initiatives based on the bicycle as a tool and symbol of hope,"
said Boulanger. "Our goal is use the bike to help boost the Rwandan economy
as well as re-brand Rwanda as a beautiful and safe place to do business
and visit freely."
The Wooden Bike Classic festival will be held in the Kibuye region of
Rwanda, Africa, from September 16-17, 2006. "The Wooden Bike Classic is
designed to represent Rwanda as a safe haven for its inhabitants and visitors
alike," said Ritchey. "It is through the culture and history of the Wooden
Bike that those outside this country will connect to this country and
For more information, visit www.projectrwanda.org or contact Boulanger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)