Doping whistleblower Jesus Manzano tells L’Equipe of his disappointment with the reaction of his pee
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano, who provoked a huge scandal in Spanish cycling earlier in March when he confessed to taking a large number of doping products, has expressed his unhappiness with the slow pace of the inquiry into his allegations. Speaking at length to L’Equipe after some months out of the media spotlight, Manzano also revealed that he will never ride again at the top level because of severe damage to his knee, damage he says was aggravated by overly aggressive treatment administered by Kelme’s medical staff. Manzano, 26, has been accused of hitting back at perceived injustices because of a desire for vengeance, but maintains that by saying what he did he was simply trying to make the world aware of what was going on in cycling and to warn young riders of the dangers they might be facing. “I’ve invented nothing,” he told L’Equipe. “If there was a reason for saying what I did it was because I followed to the letter the advice given by the doctors. I thought I could open people’s eyes to this, to make a new generation of riders aware of what is going on, to make them realise that money isn’t everything. “Your health is more important. Doping has physically destroyed me. The problem was that during those years as a cyclist I never had any concern for my health. Until 2003 that is. Then my haematocrit level reached 56 and I used to have to set my alarm to come on every two hours at night. I realised that I might not get up and that had to stop. I had become a guinea pig and it was all being decided by the team doctors, whether you lived or whether you died. They played with people’s lives.” Manzano says that he has copies of all of the medical documents Kelme gave him and will produce them when required. But he is still waiting for that call. “Spain is a third world country in terms of justice. For the Spanish federation I’ve gone from being a witness to being the accused. It’s shameful. I wish they were like those in France and Italy where they have the courage to attack this plague of doping. If they were like that in this country, there would be a lot of people in prison, on trial, prevented from working where they are now.” Asked about the recent blood doping cases that have hit the Phonak team, Manzano commented: “These practices are taking place now. It’s as easy to do as buying a pair of socks in a supermarket.” As for the future, Manzano is not sure where his next move will be. He admits that he has lived a fast life in recent seasons and has continued to do so even after the death of his close friend and former Banesto star, Jos Maria Jimenez. At the moment he is living off the money he made as a cyclist, but might have to go back to his former work as a stone mason. After his meeting with L’Equipe, his next appointment was at a Madrid hospital, where his wife is being treated for complications during pregnancy. Little, it seems, is running smoothly in Manzano’s life.