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Former Spanish professional Jesús Manzano in 2003
Accused doctor of tipping off riders and teams
Former Spanish professional-turned-whistleblower Jesús Manzano is well known for having spoken about doping practices within his-then Kelme team and in cycling in general. Yesterday’s news that Peruvian doctor Walter Viru was arrested in connection with a new Spanish doping ring comes over two years after Manzano warned of Viru’s role in cycling or, rather, his role in beating controls.
“I want to give you an example, something I've never spoken about except to the police up until now,” he told L’Equipe’s Jean Issartel in June 2007. “It concerns one of the four Spanish Laboratories accredited by the UCI. This laboratory, which is in charge of sending the UCI vampires [doctors] to take the samples during the Vuelta and other races is the same lab that's in charge of the doctors’ visits to the cyclists. They follow the cyclists and give them the stamp of approval on their licenses.
“The owner of this clinic, a renowned haematologist, called Walter Viru, who is one of the doctors for Kelme, [in order] to alert them the day before the UCI vampires were coming to take the samples from the cyclists. And he did the same thing with Del Moral, the doctor for the US Postal team and then Discovery, [who is] a good friend of his.
Manzano was asked if he was certain about the statements he was making. He affirmed he was, elaborating further.
“I experienced it in 2002 and 2003 during the Vuelta a España. I gave the police have all the details and the name of the clinic.
“Even better, I remember one time Viru had acquired Russian EPO and wanted to know the purity of it before he used it. And so he gave a vial of it to this clinic and had them confirm it was good. An important detail, this laboratory is still accredited by the UCI. When I talk about the mafia, I don't use this word lightly.”
Viru’s role is certain to be further explored in the weeks ahead, as is those of the dozen other people – amongst them pharmacists and doctors – who were arrested in the latest raids. Similarly, the riders and athletes involved are likely to be questioned as to their role in the affair.