Wednesday, July 14, 2010


A very nice piece by Pedro Horrillo on the unwritten laws of the peloton:

In the peloton there is an unwritten law that must be observed. When the leader stops for a piss the rest waits for him, although first he should be able to interpret the race in order to stop at an appropriate time. Another unwritten law is, and that's the one I mean, when a rider gets into a break he has to work and pull together unless he is someone from the leader's team in which case, it is logical he doesn't . Yesterday Cunego broke that rule, and there are no reasons which serve as an excuse. There are directors who do not agree with such laws, so the responsibility may not be his, but what is clear is that the riders that act this way become outcasts for the rest. It still remains much time to go on the Tour, many mountain stages, perfect ground for Cunego, but he might pay the price any day in the last week.

There is much Tour to go yet, rather a lot, as yesterday's was only the ninth stage, but the first two riders agree. "This tour is about two, Contador and I, though there is still plenty of time and everyone is free to attack," said Andy in the press conference. "We had to work a lot," Contador said in reference to working with Andy Schleck, "with our pace and the Saxo Bank's [Voigt was great once again], we have left the other riders affected."

Another rule of the peloton is the non-aggression pacts when both parties benefit from it. Albert and Andy spoke at La Madeleine after seeing that their forces were equal and that the remaining rivals were left behind. And that deal proved effective when crossing the finish line of Saint Jean de Maurienne. Now there are 41 seconds between them, and the third and fourth, Samuel and Denis, are more than two minutes behind the second.

A Tour reduced to two riders. There are 181 in the race but the winner will be one of these two. I said in the preview, analyzing the route and participants, that I foresaw either a boring or an exciting Tour, without happy medium. And the facts confirm the second possibility as the right one, a fratricidal duel between the two rivals who yesterday behaved like friends. Peace will not last, the pact was short-lived, just one day.

Scrutinizing my memory I find the Rasmussen-Contador precedent in 2007. Then whatever happened to Rasmussen is another story. Or even further back, an Ullrich-Armstrong in 2003, or a Pantani-Ullrich in 1998, but here we have different riders altogether. I agree that Contador and Andy have different skills in the time trial, but both can be defined as genuine climbers, part of those with the blood boiling in their veins until they attack. I was told that also the 1984 Tour was historic, Fignon- Hinault. I remember bits of it. And another, in 1971, between Merckx and Ocaña. According to what I have heard it was an historic war, because every day one of them won a battle bloodier than the previous day's. I missed it, I was not born yet, but this year's I won't. I hope not to be wrong.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dear Friends in Cycling

Dear Friends in Cycling

To coincide with the World Road Championships in Geelong Australia we have organised the New Pathways for Pro Cycling Conference.

The conference has been organised to bring together cyclists, administrators, experts and fans interested in the future of professional cycling. Given the current situation we feel that this project is even more important and timely than ever.

It is becoming increasingly clear that professional cycling cannot just carry on in the way it has in the past. Something needs to change if we are to salvage the credibility and sustainability of our beautiful sport.

Already we have a number of interesting presentations and speakers who will attend the conference including ex-professional cyclist Pedro Horrillo, the renowned Spanish journalist Carlos Arribas and Professor Verner Moller, author of the book The Doping Devil and more recently The Sacrifice - on Michael Rasmussen's Tour De France exit.

We also intend to have some video presentations in order for those who are not able to come to Australia to participate in the conference. Along with this we intend to video and publicly broadcast the conference online.

The conference will also see the presentation of Deakin University's research report into the attitudes of Australian professional cyclists to the administration of anti-doping law and policy.

Overall we wish to make the conference a forum where we can openly discuss the many issues facing the sport today.

For this reason Deakin University is opening its doors to the cycling world and offering a place for those involved to meet and talk not only with their colleagues but with experts who may be able to provide assistance and the tools for us to move forward.

We look forward from hearing from any persons or institutions who wish to attend and participate in the conference. We believe that with proper discussion we might be able to chart a new and sustainable course for our sport.

Yours in cycling,

The Organsing Committee
New Pathways for Pro Cycling Conference
Deakin University

Friday, June 11, 2010

“We Don't Want to Know.” - Third Installment of It’s not about the Blood!

I feel like Charles Dickens releasing a chapter by weekly installments!

“We Don't Want to Know.”

The Spanish judicial process, like any other judicial process, has not been a linear affair - with interlocutory steps and appeals by various parties including the UCI and WADA all having their effect on the course of the proceedings; such that in 2007 the Investigating Judge Serrano shelved the inquiry (Juzgado de Instruccion 2007). His finding was that he did not have enough evidence to obtain a prosecution against anyone involved as doping was not then a crime in Spain. As well as that, in the Investigating Judge's view, the facts as presented did not fit within the concept of a charge of endangering public health. At that point it seemed that for all intents and purposes in Spain Operacion Puerto was over. Nevertheless, the damage rolled on as riders implicated, some of whom who had been ‘cleared’ by their national cycling federations or national anti-doping agencies, found it difficult to obtain a ride in a top tier team. Some were sanctioned, with Basso being the highest profile rider involved. Others ended up either retiring, racing in lower level teams or racing as refugees in places such as Portugal and the United States until things blew over.

In the end the sanction imposed on most of them has not been that meted out by the courts, nor their federations. It has, however, been dealt to them by the management and sponsors of the Pro Tour teams and the race organisers. This is evidenced by Mancebo’s case referred to above and as many of the other cases show retribution for involvement in Puerto is not legal in the way we used to think about such things. Whatever the legal outcome might be retribution manifests itself in one form as an inability to obtain a contract with a decent team. Both the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) and the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) respectively, found that those involved had no case to answer. The comparison between Spain and Australia is telling, as all the rhetoric one is painted as being out of step and the home of the old ways of cycling, whilst the other in step and a home of the new ways of cycling, but both decisions were made on identical grounds.

The issue is complex and defies the simple explanations bandied about concerning the old and new cycling worlds. On one hand there is the position that Judge Serrano had refused to formally release evidence to the relevant sporting bodies until the criminal process against Fuentes and his collaborators had been completed. This order of the Court has itself been highlighted in the media wars as further evidence of Spain not being in step with the new cycling culture. However there is no great conspiracy here, simply the application of ordinary principles of justice in which disciplinary proceedings are suspended pending the outcome of criminal hearings. This approach was confirmed by the Provincial Court of Madrid in December 2009 (Audienca Provincial de Madrid 2009b) and is consistent with fundamental principles of law and natural justice and to not be bound by them would place the integrity of the criminal trial at stake. There is ample judicial authority, not only in Spain but also in Australia, to support such a conclusion (High Court 1982).

On the other hand the fact is that the UCI did receive a bundle of 56 files encompassing the bulk of the then Operacion Puerto documents of the Guardia Civil. The UCI retained a consultant to deal with the Puerto files and in early 2006 subsequently passed these on to the respective national cycling federations. It was on this basis that for example CONI disciplined Ivan Basso. In the Australian case, of the 56 bundles of documents sent to the federations, it appears that only one page actually made it to the independent anti-doping body ASADA. Without more than this one page consisting of a calendar accompanied by some handwritten and coded annotations, it is of no surprise ASADA found that there was no case to answer. The question that must be asked is where the chain of custody for these documents broke down. How did Cycling Australia, if that is where the chain broke, never manage to pass on all of the relevant documents? Nevertheless the UCI continue to hold out Australia as one of the representatives of the new cycling culture who have dealt with the Puerto problem is a comprehensive way, whilst Spain is characterised as an example of the old ways.

In February 2008 the Provincial Court of Madrid reopened the case for the first time (Audienca Provincial de Madrid 2008). The three Magistrates of the Court found on appeal that there was sufficient evidence for the endangering public health charge to be pursued and they directed Judge Serrano to reopen his investigation into that charge. However, it may be that an equally important finding of the Provincial Court was that the cyclists had never engaged in fraud in respect of their employers or sponsors. This decision is important for the not only the riders in so far as they continue to suffer at the hands of administrators and sponsors who fear the sullying of their good names, but also the continuing schizophrenic and paranoid manner in which Puerto and, more broadly, doping policy is dealt with in cycling. The Provincial Court finding suggests in fact that these very same sponsors and administrators have been all too well aware of the practices within their respective teams for too long – and thus are not in a position to have either their name sullied or to be defrauded.

The 2008 Provincial Court decision rejected the argument of fraud as being openly artificial and stated that it was not realistic to try and fit acts such as those in question in Puerto within the Spanish law of fraud. Fraud in Spain, as with most jurisdictions, requires that either those contracting the cyclists (the teams) or those running publicity campaigns in concert with the cyclists (the sponsors), to be deceived, and to be deceived seriously, hence the concept and the offence of “serious fraud”. The court stated that:
when it is notorious that for many years there has been talk of irregular practices, when there have been cyclists who have died from the consumption of drugs, frequent disqualifications and sanctions, when cycling is the mirror into which other sports look with fear, when it is known that the caravans and logistic premises of cycling teams have been searched for stimulants, when random controls are necessary after each race or stage, and the cycling teams have their own specialist doctors, to affirm that the cyclists have defrauded those who have contracted them is to close one's eyes to reality. ... there is at least an “I don’t want to know” attitude, and that is incompatible with the idea of serious fraud.

The implication of this finding is clearly that the Provincial Court felt that the sponsors, and the sport's administrators, had knowledge of the fact that there had been a number of doping cases in cycling in recent years and that doping existed within cycling. The further and more important implication is that both groups had been happy to turn a blind eye whilst it was in their interests. This finding undermines somewhat the simplistic rhetoric of cheating and fair play, often repeated by members of both these groups, that pervades the discussion around doping in cycling in contemporary times and the arguable hypocritical situation whereby it is only the cyclists who are taking the blame for the problem. For all the talk of cultural change in cycling, there is still little acknowledgment from the various levels of the sport's administration and sponsors that whilst many of them whom continue to build their own careers, they too were a part of cycling's old ways.

The Puerto files refers to various media reports, that of Roux, Manzano, Heras, Hamilton and Perez in particular. All of this suggests that the widespread use of performance enhancing substances in cycling was common knowledge. Drugs in cycling have a long history. As we know, it was Simpson's death (Fotheringham 2003) that brought the health and safety of the cyclists into focus as anti-doping controls developed during the 1960s (Houlihan 1999). It was also with Simpson's death – the Englishman who helped start the process of globalising the Tours; that doping first becomes a political matter but it still it remained an internal issue, something for the sport to deal with. The late 1990’s mark the point at which it becomes a matter for the state and it was with the 'Festina Tour', with borders being crossed that we see doping first becoming criminalised. Even at the time of the Festina affair the ethos behind anti doping measures was health and safety. Only recently as the pressures of a global market demanded has that focus shifted to the risk management backed by the rhetoric of fair play and cheating to be monitored by a bio-political passport regime.

Puerto also reveals a new post-Festina 'post-modern' approach to the organisation of doping. Festina became criminalised because of the seizure of various illegal substances in poor old Willy Voet's team car (Voet 2001). The riders, including Australian Neil Stephens, were held in police detention for days, with the almost blind Swiss rider, Alex Zuelle even being deprived of his glasses. The Festina affair exposed the old team based practices of preparation, where team doctors themselves were responsible for the team's doping program. In the aftermath of Festina that system began to break down and it seems that it was replaced by a more networked and outsourced preparation system. Operacion Puerto exposes the outsourced network model that came into existence in cycling in great detail. It also suggest that Liberty returned to a more team based approach as Saiz was aware of the dangers to his rider's health, not to say the team's reputation, if they were left alone and allowed to do their own thing. Journalist and ex-professional Paul Kimmage has recently argued that rather than dealing with its history and the problem of doping, in a post-Festina world these practices only became further perfected (Velocity Nation 2009b).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Puertas Abiertas - Second Installment of It’s not about the Blood!

The second instalment of It’s not about the Blood! Operacion Puerto and the end of modernity.

Puertas Abiertas

In May 2006 Operacion Puerto broke when El Pais published details from the leaked Guardia Civil files. Not only were Liberty Seguros embroiled but so was Hamilton, Perez, a host of Kelme riders and two of the main challengers for that year's Tour de France – Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso. All of this is old news. Most that follow cycling are now all too familiar with the stories of the blood bags, the nicknames and the speculation that still continues over them. Bags of the evidence have come to light regarding Fuentes and the methods he practiced. The riders both implicated and suspected and the subsequent disciplinary and criminal proceedings against many of them have all been in the news ( 2009).

Many seem to believe that there is something else that Spanish justice needs to resolve, other than the prosecution of Fuentes and Co., which will assist cycling's renewal. This is the continual line pushed by the media, the UCI and WADA. But the point that is often forgotten in the fog is that as far as the Guardia Civil investigation and the Spanish courts are concerned the cyclists have never been suspects. Sure there were bags of evidence implicating various riders in the Fuentes' scheme, bringing to light for the first time the details of planning and administration that went on to help produce some 'great' rides (for examples see Hardie 2004b & 2004c) but never was any cyclist charged, or likely to be charged, with a criminal offence in Spain as a result of Operacion Puerto.

In this context the consistent media reports of riders being cleared of any involvement by the Spanish judiciary are meaningless. The cyclists were always witnesses and in some ways possibly the victims of the network focussed around Fuentes. The approach of the Spanish courts is abundantly clear even from the reports in the cycling media. For example one report has even sets out in detail the questions that Investigating Judge Serrano intended to ask cyclists when giving evidence ( 2006d). The questions point to the status of the cyclists as victims rather than perpetrators. The questions were:

1. Is the witness still a professional cyclist?
2. For which teams has he ridden since 2002?
3. As a professional cyclist, does he know the doctors Eufemiano Fuentes, Yolanda Fuentes, or Alfredo Córdova? Has he received blood transfusions? If so, in what laboratory and with whose authority?
4. During his career as professional cyclist, has he ever been sent by his doctor, manager, or other person to the laboratory of Dr. Merino Batres in Madrid?
5. Has he ever ridden for a team for which Manolo Saiz was technical director or manager? Did he receive blood transfusions during that time?
6. Assuming that he had suffered health disadvantages as consequence of the treatment by the doctors Fuentes and/or Córdova and/or the actions of Saiz, has he suffered any damage that he could claim in this process?

Their status as such is further illuminated by the comments made by one of the accused Merino Batres who told the police:
"Poor Mancebo, I believe that we swindled him a bit. He didn't need the transfusions for anything. He had such a high natural Haemotocrit that we couldn't do half as much for him that we did for the others" (Author’s translation).

Batres recounts how Mancebo was swindled by Fuentes and himself to the tune of 50,000 Euros in 2005 alone. As a result of being caught up in Puerto, Mancebo’s income fell from 1,000,000 euros in 2006 with the French team Ag2r to a low of 10,000 Euros when he was riding in Portugal during 2008 (Arribas 2009).

In these circumstances instead of pursuing the riders what Spain has sought to do is to deal with the public health issues arising from doping in sports and to deal with the supply of doping substances flowing into that country from what is regarded as a part of the new (and by implication ‘clean’) cycling world. The interest of the Guardia Civil was, and has always remained, the importation of potential doping products and their distribution and administration throughout Spain. The Guardia Civil believed that Fuentes was probably in collaboration with other sports doctors implicated in doping practices and that these doctors and groups that they formed constituted independent but interrelated criminal groups – acting independently but related by their object of providing medical assistance to cyclists. These groups were interlinked with those seeking to import, manufacture and distribute the substances. Simply put, Spain has gone after the dealers and the pushers and not the end users or the victims.

The conclusion reached by the Guardia Civil was that Fuentes and his gang developed and were involved in the practice of doping, which they described as the integral preparation of the riders based on illicit methods using medicines in a manner contrary to Spanish health laws. The illicit preparation methods of Fuentes used products which were imported into Spain without passing the normal controls applied to the importation of medicines, they were using the medicines for purposes other than those that they were designed, and that many of the products used were beyond their use by date. The January 2009 appeal decision in Puerto has highlighted the grounds upon which the case against Fuentes and his cohort will proceed (Audienca Provincial de Madrid 2009a). These include that the practice endangered public health in:

that they did not extract blood and conduct transfusions in adequate premises;
that they did not transport blood in adequate recipients;
that the identity of the donors were not adequately recorded;
that there did not exist a system to guarantee that the blood was stored at the correct temperatures or that the fridges and freezers had adequate back up electricity in the case of black out; and
that the operation of extracting and transfusing blood was conducted in a clandestine manner.

As the story of Pantani's relationship with Fuentes suggests these practices of preparing cyclists raise other important public health concerns. It is on this basis that the Guardia Civil and Spanish justice continue to pursue the charge of endangering public health.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It’s not about the Blood! Operacion Puerto and the end of modernity.

I am going to start posting excerpts of my work on Operacion Puerto here. Not the complete stuff but bits. Some of this has already appeared in Spanish in the Journal NÓMADAS. 26 | Enero-Junio.2010 (II)Revista Crítica de Ciencias Sociales y Jurídicas | Critical Review of Social and Juridical Sciences

It will also appear soon in an anthology on Doping and Legal Rights.

The First Installment:

It’s not about the Blood!

Operacion Puerto and the end of modernity.

"This is the west, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change."
Il Gatopardo or The Leopard.

“In the history of cycle sport, fabrications crowded out facts from the very outset.”
Benjo Maso

[The introductory two parts have been cut out - straight to the nitty gritty]

Operacion Puerto – It’s Not About the Blood.

Operacion Puerto (Operation Mountain Pass), is the name given to a criminal investigation conducted by the Spanish Guardia Civil and it encapsulates the manner in which the reality of the material processes occurring have become hidden and confused by the media crisis (for some academic comment on Puerto see: Pottgiesser 2007, Lippi 2008, Strulik 2008, Hardie 2007, Rebeggiani 2008, Lippi 2007, Rosen 2008, Atkinson and Young 2008, Moller 2008). The manner in which the Puerto drama has been dragged out and portrayed in the media and by many in positions of power within cycling brings into stark view the situation that Moller describes concerning trial by media. For administrators and policy makers, their aims - good administration and the making of good policy - appears at times to have taken second position behind a perceived need to engage in the sustaining of an ill-informed and self interested slanging match which seeks to denigrate and override the niceties of the mechanisms of modernist justice. Rather than being a simple black and white question as it is generally portrayed, polarised around the binaries of 'clean' and dirty, or 'fair play' and 'cheating', what Puerto reveals is that the issue is one of critical complexity where the public stances and the media's portrayal of the situation belie the forces and movements at play as cycling’s helmsmen seek to transform it into a global commodity of the society of the spectacle. Puerto reveals a space of critical opalescence, where rumour, suspicion, media, law and politics all converge into a media constructed zone of indistinction (Galison 2003, Agamben 1998, Agamben 2005, Hardie 2007). Puerto reveals a space where the global system in construction pushes forth, utilising the tools of the exception, functionality, spectacle and just war to over determine modernist values and law. It characterises as a hindrance, as tardy, as dysfunctional, as an outdated formality, the grand institution of modern Spanish justice.

In May 2006, the Spanish daily newspaper, El Pais published a series of stories concerning the Guardia Civil investigation of a network involved in the medical preparation of a number of professional cyclists and other athletes (Arribas 2006 Arribas, Hardie 2009). At the centre of the storm was the Madrid based gynaecologist, Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. It is history now that the reporting of El Pais subsequently sent the cycling world into turmoil as the extent of Dr Fuentes' preparation programs were revealed and the affair quickly took on a life of its own. At first the focus was on the Spanish team, Liberty Seguros, with the title sponsor quickly withdrawing their financial support. The riders of the Manolo Saiz directed team had to cover up their sponsors name with tape as they raced the 2006 Giro d’Italia (Tan 2006, Hood 2006). Almost immediately other names began to emerge, such as Ullrich and Basso, not only subsequently calling into doubt their performances in that edition of the Giro, but also cutting that year’s Tour de France favourite list to shreds (Cyclingnews 2006).

The media's focus since that time has been on the cyclists involved and how they should be punished. This has also been the main focus of the UCI – constantly calling for the riders to be disciplined in a manner which, deliberately or not, misunderstands what Puerto, as a criminal and judicial process, is all about. This line of attack is not only reserved for the media. Senior officials of both the UCI and WADA do nothing to shed light on the complexity of the situation (Stokes 2009, Hood 2009, Cyclingnews 2009b). But to begin to understand Puerto one needs to consider why in the first place the police had been engaged in the surveillance of Fuentes, Saiz and others.

By piecing together the documents it appears that this surveillance seems to have emerged out of the intersection of two seemingly unrelated concerns for Spain. The first was the ongoing investigation by the Spanish Guardia Civil into the importation of prohibited medicines such as Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IG-F1) from Australia in Operacion Mamut (Mammoth) (Guardia Civil 2004). Mamut had uncovered a network of importation and distribution of IG-F1 from an Australian company, Gropep. That company, which is based in Adelaide, South Australia, was originally funded by an Australian governmental authority, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and the University of Adelaide. At the time of the investigation Gropep had in fact planned to licence the right to manufacture IG-F1 to the Mamut suspects (Cyclingnews 1998). When the Guardia Civil followed the trail of Gropep’s IG-F1 to and throughout Spain its distribution eventually led them to the doors of Dr Fuentes and his cohorts. In the first instance it was this illegal importation and subsequent supply that the Guardia Civil were interested in cracking. Their interest was not Fuentes, Saiz nor their collaborators, even more clearly it was not the cyclists involved. However the fact of the matter was that it was the trail of IG-F1 from Adelaide that led the Guardia Civil to Fuentes and his collaborators.

During the course of the Mamut investigation the Guardia Civil became aware of the declarations of the ex-Kelme cyclist, Jesus Manzano, which had been published in the Spanish sports daily, AS (AS 2004, Bose 2004). Manzano set out in great detail the system of rider preparation that existed within his former team, Kelme – Communidad Valenciana. This system, Manzano claims, was driven not by the individual cyclists but those that managed and ran the team. Included amongst those were the team's various Director Sportifs, including the principal Director, Vicente Belda. Belda now stands charged alongside Fuentes and Saiz in the Puerto process.

In late 2005 the Mamut investigation intersected by chance with the disaster that arose for Spanish cycling after Roberto Heras's 2005 Vuelta a España positive test for EPO (El Pais 2005a, El Pais 2005b, 2006b). The repercussions for Unipublic, the race's organisers, other sponsors and the Spanish state were enormous. For a complex array of reasons, Spanish cycling was in real crisis following the Heras positive. The Grand Tours have always played a role in marking out and defining a territory, a nation and its people. In that respect, the Tours were as much a part of creating the Europe of the twentieth century as was the documentation and administration of life that Michele Foucault so very well describes in his lectures entitled 'Society Must be Defended'. The people, customs, fetes, fairs and fiestas each day, complete with the local version of cheese, chorizo and champagne, are always a part of the backdrop of the Tours but they have been steadfastly created and maintained by an alliance of the state, industrial capital and the media. With its resumption after the Civil War in 1941, Spain's La Vuelta covered the longest route in its history demarcating the victor's territory across the country and particularly the former Republican strongholds. For some years it was restricted by Franco to only Spanish participants. In modernity these races all played their role in reinforcing the status of a unified territory, a people, a nation and its capital. It must be in this broad light, the years of the American domination of the Tour de France and the sale of Unipublic to the Tour de France owners ASO, that the positive of Heras must be read.

At the end of the 2005 Vuelta Heras was the only real Spanish option to conquer the Grand Tours in a post-Armstrong 2.0 world and he was in disgrace. The loss to Unipublic as a result of the positive of Heras drew into focus the perceived problem of doping in Spain and the alleged attitude of impunity that existed there (Cyclingnews 2006). It may be possible to speculate that it was also this loss of credibility, both in the public eye and in terms of possible future sponsorship and television coverage, which drew the hunt of the Guardia closer to Fuentes.

The evidence given by Liberty Seguros Director Sportif Manolo Saiz when he was detained by the Guardia Civil provides some insight into both how the Vuelta disaster came to be and how the Liberty team became entangled in the ongoing investigation into importation. Saiz had been under video surveillance by the Guardia Civil and was arrested with a bag of cash to allegedly pay his team's outstanding account with Fuentes. The cash was in the mixed denominations of Euros, Swiss Francs and Australian Dollars. The Dollars supposedly being money left over from the team’s per diems paid to them by the organisers of the Tour Down under in Adelaide earlier that year. Saiz has had a long history in professional cycling but unlike most other team directors he was never a professional cyclist. Nevertheless his contacts extend far and wide throughout the cycling world and he has been for many years one of the most successful and complete Director Sportifs. Saiz was the mentor or, at least, inspiration for Lance Armstrong's Director Sportif, Johan Bruyneel, who rode and served his cycling apprenticeship with Saiz during the 1990s. Saiz also has close connections with ex-Australian professionals and cycling powerbrokers such as Neil Stephens and Stephen Hodge. In Spain his followers and contacts are known collectively as the ‘Manolo-istas” and they are anecdotally regarded as being closely linked to those that broker the power behind the UCI. It is of no surprise then that Saiz was also significantly a prime mover, along with former International Cycling Union (UCI) President Hein Verbruggen and his protégé Alain Rumpf, in the creation of the Pro Tour model adopted by the UCI.

When he was interviewed in detention, Saiz said that he had known Fuentes since his stint with ONCE in the early 1990s, a time when his team was populated by a number of high profile riders many of whom are still involved in the sport as administrators or Directors Sportif. Saiz said that after Fuentes left the team they had occasional personal contact but that it was, in 2004, with his signing of Roberto Heras, that the relationship recommenced on a more than friendly level. Saiz said that, on his arrival at Liberty from the US Postal Service team (USPS), Heras had asked that he be able to have Fuentes, as his personal doctor. According to Saiz, Heras wanted to deal directly with Fuentes. At first Saiz had refused the request, as it didn't seem to him to be the best way to manage the team. After much insistence on the part of Heras, Saiz gave in, but it seems that he decided to try and manage the relationship as best he could. Saiz was insistent in his evidence that it was Heras and other riders in his team, some of whom had also previously been in Kelme that pushed for the Fuentes connection. There of course was no love lost between Saiz and Kelme's Director Sportif Vicente Belda. During the previous years Saiz had been instrumental for pushing through the Pro Tour and Kelme's exclusion from it. This exclusion had in part been brought about by Saiz and others insistence that Kelme was still engaged in cycling's old ways (Hardie 2004, Bike Radar 2004).

With the 2005 Vuelta positive of Heras the Guardia Civil appear to have put two and two together and followed the leads to see if there was any link between the substances being used by cyclists and their investigation of importation and distribution in Operacion Mamut. This of course was not the only event that had led them to the consulting rooms of Fuentes. The year before the Vuelta had been hit by two positive doping tests for blood transfusions. The first to break was that of Tyler Hamilton, another ex USPS rider, who tested positive following his September 11 time trial victory, over his soon to be again teammate, Floyd Landis, in Valencia (Jones 2004, Hardie 2004a, Hardie 2004b). The second involved, the post-race revelations concerning Hamilton's teammate, Santi Perez (Abt 2004). On the road Phonak was managed by ex-Kelme Director Sportif, Alvaro Pino (Maloney 2006). The files also suggest another link from Hamilton to his friend "Nick" and "Nick's friend". This little mystery has not received the attention that the reference to "Valv Piti" has received by the cycling world. And of course, seemingly outside of the Fuentes affair, the next doping incident to really rock cycling was that of another ex-USPS rider, Floyd Landis ( 2006c, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2006, Walsh 2007 Ballester & Walsh 2006, Velocity Nation 2009b). These events involving Heras, Hamilton and Perez drew the Guardia Civil closer and closer to their stakeout of Fuentes.

More soon!