Belda: "Things are worse for me"

Communidad Valenciana director Vicente Belda, implicated in the Spanish doping scandal involving...

Communidad Valenciana director Vicente Belda, implicated in the Spanish doping scandal involving Manolo Saiz and Eufemiano Fuentes, has said that although Saiz is having a tough time at the moment, things may be worse for him. And with his team now all but defunct, he may well be right.

"We have spoken to each other many times," said Belda, "but I called Pablo Antón to pass on my best wishes to himself and Manolo Saiz. The first thing [to be affected] are the people and I know that Manolo will be finding it difficult, although perhaps I may be in a worse position than he is," he said.

"If our team is finally excluded from the Tour de France it would be a tremendous injustice," said José Antonio Pecharromán, who won the Euskal Bizikleta with Paternina-Costa de Almeria in 2003. "We don't have a connection to what's been going on and don't I know why it's been linked us. All these occurrences do a lot to damage cycling," he added.

Pecharromán is part of the preselected Communidad Valenciana squad to ride the Tour. "We have focused all season on the Tour of France," he said. "For us not to be able to participate in the Tour would be not only a huge disillusionment, but a waste of all the the work and preparation we've done up until now," he explained.

Belda, although known as a fighter, seems prepared to yield this time. "This is not the cycling I knew from ten or twenty years ago," he said. "It's rotten from all sides."

Phonak's Santiago Botero, demoralised after being stood down by his team in the wake of this latest scandal, said, "For me the year has finished; I don't have any objectives, nor do I have the illusion that I will have any - I have nothing."

Speaking to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Botero, who has been linked to former Kelme doctor Eufemiano Fuentes said, "My morale and spirit is so low now... I spent seven months preparing here in Colombia, killing myself [with training] every day, living my life on the bicycle." Botero's season was focussed on the Tour de France, which for the Colombian is now out of reach. "My purpose was to do a good Tour de France," he said. "The decision of the team [Phonak] does not seem just to me."

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