Manolo Saiz: ‘My teams have been the cleanest in cycling’

The Spaniard was blacklisted from cycling following Operación Puerto

Liberty Seguros boss Manuel Saiz has said his cycling teams were the cleanest in the peloton, despite being blacklisted from the sport following Operación Puerto.

Saiz was arrested during the final week of the 2006 Giro d’Italia alongside doctor Eufemiano Fuentes on doping charges, which they were cleared of but were blacklisted from the sport.

His ONCE team, which then became Liberty Seguros and then Astana, were one of the most successful during the 1990s, winning the Vuelta a España five times amongst almost 500 total victories. Saiz says his forced departure from the sport “plunged me into loneliness”, telling Spanish newspaper Alerta: “I’m a brave man and it turned me into a coward; and a thousand other things, for example my children could have had other destinies.”

When asked for the whole story on the scandal, Saiz says he will “leave it for my grandchildren” to tell. As for whether his riders used blood transfusions or other doping methods: “They’ll have to answer that.

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“I have always said so and will continue to do so throughout my life. My teams have been the cleanest in cycling. That’s what I’ll stick with.”

Saiz moves on to say he worries about the financial health of the sport during the coronavirus pandemic, before discussing the use of salbutamol in the peloton, wondering why so many athletes have allergies.

“I use [salbutamol], for example, for health reasons. I am clear about what helps me in my normal life. It would be necessary to wonder why so many athletes have allergies in sports, we were doing studies. Scientists have to decide on its use. If a lot of helps me in my daily life, I understand that the same thing happens to athletes.”