Thursday, January 28, 2010

ONCE era el equipo más limpio - Manolo Saiz

In an interview appearing on, Spain's most-acclaimed cycling team boss "Manolo" Saiz claims ONCE was the cleanest team in the peloton and states his willingness to return to cycling at the conclusion of Operation Puerto. Saiz is a legend - but figures notoriously in the biggest blood-doping scandal in the history of cycling.

Wikipedia describes Manuel "Manolo" Saiz Balbás (born 16 October 1959, Torrelavega, Cantabria) as the former team manager of one of the most successful Spanish professional road bicycle racing teams, first called Team ONCE, then Liberty Seguros-Würth, Astana-Würth, and lastly Astana Team.

Saiz is further described by the online encyclopedia as a hands-on manager and directeur sportif. He consolidated his riders' training and hired staff to manage their coaching and racing. Despite not having a racing background, he nurtured ONCE to become one of the biggest teams. His riders included Frenchman Laurent Jalabert and Swiss Alex Zülle; both dominated the Vuelta a España, each winning the general and other classifications. In 1995 Jalabert achieved the trifecta by winning the general classification along with the points and King of the Mountains. Saiz's next riders included Spaniard Abraham Olano, Igor González de Galdeano and Joseba Beloki (pictured below). ONCE dominated team time trials in the Tour de France.

Joseba Beloki leads Aitor González in the Vuelta a España's 15th stage,
from Gijón - l'Angliru; 22 September 2002 (c)

At the end of the 2003 ONCE discontinued sponsorship, saying penetration was 100% in Spain, meaning every Spaniard knew what ONCE was. Saiz brought Liberty Seguros (the Spanish branch of the US company Liberty Mutual) and Würth, a German assembly technology company to be co-sponsor.

Manuel Saiz anuncia que está dispuesto a regresar al ciclismo cuando concluya la "Operación Puerto"
Original story in Spanish.
En las dos últimas semanas Manuel Saiz, ex director del equipo Once procesado en la Operación Puerto, ha aparecido en varios medios de comunicación después de cuatro años de silencio. Saiz, que ahora regenta una cervecería a la espera de que se resuelva judicialmente el caso que comenzó el 23 de mayo de 2006. Asegura no tener nada que ver con la trama del doctor Fuentes y el hematólogo Merino Batres.

"Esta experiencia me ha hecho más inseguro, he perdido mucha confianza en mí mismo", dijo el lunes por la noche en El Larguero. "Esto no me ha despertado ningún tipo de rencor, porque no sé tener rencor".

El director del equipo ONCE cree que el fenómeno del dopaje se da tanto en el ciclismo, como en otros muchos deportes. "El dopaje en el ciclismo existe y no podemos decir otra cosa. Pero no tan generalizado como se cree la gente, esa idea no es veraz", explicaba el técnico cántabro. "Estoy convencido de que la ONCE era el equipo más limpio del mundo".

El ex director de la ONCE aseguró no saber qué es la EPO "porque no es médico". En el transcurso de la entrevista del Larguero, Manolo Saiz dice que las declaraciones de Manzano no son apropiadas y cree en la inocencia de Alejandro Valverde "como en la de todo el mundo", y aseguró que ya no tiene relación con Eufemiano Fuentes.

La idea de volver

Desde que explotó la Operación Puerto saiz permanece alejado del ciclismo, pero piensa en volver. "Hasta hace poco no tenía intención de volver al ciclismo, ahora me lo he empezado a plantear", explicó Saiz, que reconoció haber sido votante solcialista y que ahora vive de lo que ha ahorrado y de una cervecería que ha montado. "A mí el resto del ciclismo me ha defendido, cuando yo sí que le he hecho con ellos".
Translated copy of original story.


  1. Manolo Saiz has no shame. It's really unbelievable. He claims that the police caught him with the doctor Eufemiano Fuentes because he ran into him unpurposely and they went to have a coffee. And he sais that he was bringing a lot of money (in euros, dollars and australian dollars) because he was going to travel.
    Reading or listening to the many, many interviews he is giving the last two months is amazing. I don't know if he is stupid o he thinks we are all stupids. The saddest thing is that in Spain a lot of people believe him, including some journalists. I'm from Spain and I feel really ashame sometimes because of people like this.

    Nice blog, it's not easy to talk about doping like you do.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, LJ, and for sharing your honest feelings about Saiz. Stop back often.

  3. Zuelle, de Galdeano, Heras, Manzano, Scarponi....

  4. I think one can safely assume that a majority of riders on all iterations of his squads were exposed to some form of PED-use and/or opportunity to charge...

    But isn't that an awesome picture of Beloki?!


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