Madariaga hits back at Bernaudeau

The threat of more cycling-related legal action looms as Euskaltel's team boss blasts a French count

The threat of more cycling-related legal action looms as Euskaltel’s team boss blasts a French count

The Euskaltel team have made no secret about feeling as if they are under siege at this year’s Tour. For the Basques, the steady drip of negative publicity began with David Etxebarria’s enforced rest last month due to an elevated haematocrit count, continued when Gorka Gonzalez was prevented from starting the Tour for the same reason, intensified when team doctor Jesus Losa was implicated in the David Millar/Cofidis affair and reached ridiculous proportions when Brioches La Boulangre team manager Jean-Ren Bernaudeau effectively accused the Basque team of doping and stealing results from “honourable” riders. Of course, the Basque team have had an answer to all of these issues as they have arisen, and their feisty team boss, Miguel Madariaga, provided the latest when he responded to Bernaudeau’s comments yesterday (Monday). Speaking on Spanish radio, Madariaga called Bernaudeau an “imbecile” and “resentful”, and those were just the more pleasant references. After telling the radio interviewer that Bernaudeau ought to shut up, Madariaga added: “This man is the manager of the unfortunate [Fabrice] Salanson, who was found dead in a hotel room before the [2003] Tour of Germany.” Although a subsequent autopsy said Salanson’s death was due to natural causes, the Frenchman’s family have been taking legal action against Bernaudeau’s team. Madariaga said of Bernaudeau’s insinuations that the Basque squad had stolen results from other more honourable riders that they were “disagreeable accusations that he will have to explain to us. We have not done anything, we’ve got no dispute with that team, and that gentleman is a real idiot.” Responding to Bernaudeau’s suggestion that he would be happy to see the police raid the race on a regular basis, Madariaga said: “He wants to bring the police down on us. by creating the idea that we are not playing fair and we are suffering a degree of persecution.” Madariaga felt that Bernaudeau’s comments stemmed from the allegations of doping within the Spanish peloton made by former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano, and concluded by saying he was considering whether to take legal action against the Brioches team manager.