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JUAN GUTIÉRREZ | 18/01/2013
Nine years ago, Jesús Manzano stunned the sport world when he revealed the extent of doping within his cycling team in an interview with AS. The former cyclist spoke to us again on Friday and gave his thoughts on Lance Armstrong who has publicly confessed that he took performance-enhancing drugs during his seven Tour de France triumphs.
Did you watch Oprah Witney's interview with Lance Armstrong?
Look, I am going to be completely honest with you. I didn't watch it, nor did I feel like watching it. I have been told a few details and I have read bits and pieces in the newspapers but I have no desire to listen to Armstrong. I knew what was going on a long time ago so it will be hard for someone like him to surprise me.
What did you make of his doping admission?
The first thing that I thought of was the moment when he claimed I was mad and a liar... Now it turns out that the liar and the mad one is him, not me.
Armstrong also said that you made those declarations to AS for revenge and for financial gain?
Now that we are on the subject of money, I hope he returns all of the money he has made. He mocked an entire country... and not just a country, he laughed in the face of the whole world because he was universally acclaimed.
Why do you think that Armstrong defended his secret so fiercely?
He lied for money... Whilst laughing at the United States, France and Germany... What credibility does the Tour de France have now as a race? And what kind of credibility does the UCI have? It's also important to clarify whether the money actually helped him to cover up what he was doing because at the end of the day, the competition is only for those with money. Did you hear what Djokovic had to say?
Yes, Nole said that Armstrong is "a disgrace and should suffer for his lies".
How can Djokovic say that? As if he doesn't know what goes on. So there is no doping in tennis then? Are they trying to suggest that when there is a ball involved, there is no doping going on?
Armstrong justified taking performance-enhancing drugs because it was "the thing to do" in that generation and said that only five cyclists never took banned substances during that period.
During my time in sport, I only knew one person who wasn't involved in doping. That was Juanmi Cuenca. He didn't do it because he had a vein narrowing condition. Oh! And Santi Blanco too - he was clean.
Nine years after your statement, Armstrong decides to start talking about widespread doping...
That's right... but he's left it a little bit late don't you think?
How do you feel now that time has proved that you were right all along? Anger? Shame? Pride? A feeling of liberation?
I just feel that it's disgraceful that some people have taken Cycling to these depths - where it remains to this day. Quietly, I feel happy that the sponsors have turned their backs on cycling because that is what it deserves - they have never tried to clean out all the doping, they just carried on milking the cow. The other day a director told me that not much has changed since then. Will these people ever learn?
After the Armstrong case, Cycling must either change or die a death.
No, no, I really hope not. Just like Armstrong spent so many years lying, many others are still doing so. Then they start whinging that Cycling is always being attacked. Why don't they tell the truth now? Do you know why? Because in Cycling you learn to lie about everything, it's the first thing they teach you.
Do you see any solution to this at all?
To fix the problems, the people in charge must be replaced by new people. What don't they name Javier Mínguez as president of the Federation? Or Santi Blanco? It's always the same old faces.
Have you any other suggestions to improve things?
The law needs to be changed so that doping offenders face prison. That will put an end to doping.
Don't you think that a prison sentence is a bit excessive?
For someone who cheated others out of millions of euros? What kind of punishment do those who do that get?
But with people such as yourself speaking out against doping, surely we must have some hope for the future?
I am pleased that since I spoke out in 2004, at last, in 2013, a judge is going to listen to what I have to say. Let's see if they can finally get to the bottom of all of this. I am not afraid of a showdown - with Vicente Belda for example. But I am not hoping for too much, I am not going to deceive anyone.