Manolo Saiz: unfit and improper?

Monday, 23 August 2010

Never let it be said that cycling is a tough sport when it comes to picking winners and losers. If you fail, a second chance seems a birthright and those that make further mistakes can usually get an audience again and again.

I’m all for second chances in life but many jobs in the world will bar you if you make a single mistake. A doctor, accountant, lawyer or school teacher will never work again in their chosen field if they are busted for something serious.


Should he be behind the wheel or behind bars?

So it seems with Manolo Saiz – former ONCE and Liberty Seguros team boss – who is sounding out a comeback. Whether this is for real or not remains to be seen but he seems to imagine he can come back without too many questions being asked.

Despite the courtroom confessions of Alex Zuelle, nothing was done to pursue him. Like most anti-doping affairs it took police action to shake the sport into action but by the time Operacion Puerto was wound down, no action was taken against Saiz. This despite a mountain of evidence to suggest he was running a set of unregulated pharmaceutical clinical trials that doubled as a cycling team.

Fit and proper
For me, anyone in charge of a cycling team needs to pass a small ethical test. As directeur sportif, you are in charge of a lot of young riders who are keen to impress, you set the terms of employment and decide on contract renewals. It’s an influential position and this for the riders alone, yet alone a wider role that can damage the image of the sport.

Many roles demand certification that someone employed in a responsible position is deemed “fit and proper”. There’s no need to make the test too strict, but I’d draw the line at a team manager found buying banned substances or running a team-wide doping programme.

  • I’d love to escape the subject of doping but with a cast of villains on stage, it’s almost never-ending. That’s why the test suggested above would ensure the door is open for fresh ideas but slams shut in the face of yesterday’s crooks.
Duncan August 23, 2010 at 9:08 am

Good point. I'd give riders a second chance after a two year ban but team managers should be on a life ban if they are caught in something serious.

TheInnerRing August 23, 2010 at 9:12 am

Thanks Duncan and I'd tend to agree. Not sure if it can be enforced, although as I say above, other professions seem to exclude people convicted of malpractice.

John Sutton August 23, 2010 at 9:57 am

Why couldn't it be enforced? All it would need is a "fit and proper person test" that included a rule that said all DS and team managers needed to have a record that included no doping infractions. Wait, that would mean the UCI would need to pass the rule and enforce it… Welcome back Manolo :-(

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