Cycling: Manzano claims doping almost killed him

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The Independent Online

A Spanish former professional has claimed he was on the point of dying twice during 2003 because of organised drug abuse within his team.

A Spanish former professional has claimed he was on the point of dying twice during 2003 because of organised drug abuse within his team.

Jesus Maria Manzano, who rode with the Kelme team for four years, said he was given an unidentified substance on the morning of the stage to Morzine during last year's Tour de France.

"I suddenly started feeling weird, as if I was going to collapse," Manzano said. "Three kilometres into a break, despite the intense heat I had an attack of the shivers and suddenly fainted. The next thing I knew they were taking off my jersey in the race ambulance."

Manzano said he had to take 150 millilitres of a second blood transfusion from an unidentified donor in order to race again in the Tour of Portugal. But the transfusion had the opposite effect, and Manzano was thrown off a train in Valencia, "because the passengers thought I was going to die. And if I'd taken the entire bag of blood they had wanted to give me, I would have."

Manzano's accusations, which are backed up with photos of the rider extracting blood, could have a devastating effect on Spanish cycling, which has avoided the scandals which have hit the sport in France and Italy.

Alasdair Fotheringham writes for Cycling Weekly

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