Counter-inquiry

Dario Lecman is the first Argentinean weightlifter to have participated in the Olympic Games in his discipline. An athlete with a reputation that raises doubts, he is today far from this past life. Victim of a stroke that left him in a coma for 20 days a few years ago, he now speaks with difficulty. But the former athlete has worked hard to overcome this attack. He can now walk, trains four times a week "so his body doesn't harden" and even teaches Instagram. When Sebastian Torok, a journalist at the daily newspaper La Nacion, calls him to talk about the time when he was Mariano Puerta's physical trainer, Lecman is not very talkative, simply answering no to the journalist's questions or saying that he simply doesn't know.


Episode 1 - Through the storm

Episode 2 - The Man through whom the Scandal comes

Episode 3 - La Puerta Del Cielo (The Gate of Paradise)

Episode 4: The Unbelivable Truth


Contaminated vitamin pills made by his presupposed friend? "I had nothing to do with that. It's a lie." What happened then?  "I have no idea." Did he give him food supplements at Roland Garros? "I don't know, I have no idea what could have happened." But did he ever ask her what could have happened? "No, he's a very secretive person"[1]. In the end, we will learn very little. The former athlete will be much more talkative when he is interviewed by another Argentinian newspaper, Clarin. When you first talk to him about his reputation of yesteryear, he defends himself vigorously. "That in the world of weightlifting there are cases or discussions about doping does not mean that I am responsible for the negligence that reigns there [2]". When the journalist asks him about his so-called friend working in a laboratory, Dario Lecman denies a second time. "No, I never had one. I don't know who gave him (the pills). I don't know if it was a nutritionist, I have no idea," he insists. And he defends himself from taking unconscious risks with his gambler. "I don't understand why Mariano would involve me in this. I just helped him physically and I would never have given him anything to take that would have put his career in jeopardy. I've been a good person to him. I helped him a lot when he was alone," he says forcefully. During his interview with Nacion, he expressed his desire to contact Mariano Puerta again to clarify the situation. "In the end, I didn't want to talk to him, not any more," he says simply. Claudio Henschke, current coach of the Argentinean weightlifting team, was Dario Lecman's substitute physical trainer for Mariano Puerta in case of the athlete's absence. However, he did not work much with the player. "I toured with him in 2007. We played three tournaments in Italy but I never talked about that (editor's note: these suspensions) with him. " That doesn't prevent him from having an opinion on the subject. "Physically, Mariano Puerta had a real advantage over the others. His suspension didn't stop me. In my career, I have seen more cases of contamination than conscious violation of the rules. ». He also states that Dario Lecman never mentioned to him a friend working in a laboratory...  

"I don't know why Puerta gave Dario the hot potato, he concludes. Maybe there is something between them that I never knew... [3]". Is there a dispute between the two men? For lack of being totally enlightening, another testimony still puts a little grain to grind on the mysterious relations between Mariano Puerta and his curious physical trainer. Modest professional player, it is little to say that Andrés Schneiter specialized as a coach in "rebirths". Recovering a Juan Ignacio Londero in total lack of confidence to bring him in the top 100, he reoffends with Cristian Garin whom he takes under his wing at a time when the latter's career was heading in a dead end. A young retiree from the courts in 2004, he began his coaching career by taking charge of a Mariano Puerta who was at a standstill during his first suspension. He will accompany the player in his spectacular comeback up the rankings to his Parisian epic, where his red mane will not go unnoticed. When Mariano Puerta spoke to an Argentinean journalist about the figures he learned the most from in his career, he would not have a word for the man who took him from the 400th to the top 10. "I don't know why it ended like that with Mariano. We had a few arguments and we drifted away from each other, the Argentinean coach explained in December 2005. By the time we parted, we lost contact. When the affair broke out, I told him I was ready to testify. I called him when the sanction was known but he didn't answer. The relationship I have with him is not the best one but we don't fight either... [4]» Fifteen years after the fact, things have not changed much. The gringo, as the players he coached call him, still holds a small grudge against the one he helped at a delicate period in his career. "Today, I don't have any relationship with him. A lot has happened. He hasn't paid me. Two things hurt me. He was close to me and was also my friend. I am very angry at Guillermo Pérez Roldan too, given everything he did to me from behind. He sent e-mails to Mariano, who showed them to me, saying that he wanted to train him. All this after Roland Garros. That's the way it is, when you take a player who's in a bad position, nobody wants to work with him. Later, when he gets good, things change. ». Jorge Brasero, Puerta's former Franco-Argentinean manager clarifies things. "I spoke to Schneiter again at Roland Garros in 2019, he says. We were in a cold sweat for 14 years because he thought Mariano had not paid him and had paid everyone, while we had all lost a lot of money? He thought I had turned Mariano against him by telling him to change coaches (...) But when Mariano wanted something, he always made the decisions alone: a car, a marriage, a divorce. He was the one who contacted Perez Roldan, negotiated and closed the file (...) He was top 10, I think he wanted to get closer to a guy like him, who had 13 years of experience [5] ".  

But deep down, what does Andrés Schneiter think of the whole affair? Already in 2005, he had already expressed himself on the subject, saying that "Mariano's defense at his trial was not good." He implied that he had little faith in the glass theory, which led him into a heated discussion with Mariano Puerta's father-in-law, a leading figure in Argentine television. "When I said in that interview that it all looked like a science fiction movie, Quique Estevanez called me and told me that he was going to send me to the police, that he was going to take me to court. [6]," recalls Cristian Garin's former coach. When Andrés Schneiter then mentions Dario Lecman to journalist Sebastian Torok, one feels that he did not especially carry the physical trainer in his heart, describing him as a man who often caused "disorder". He then evokes a particularly unusual element that happened during this Roland Garros. Indeed, the coach was particularly surprised to see Dario Lecman arrive in Paris after the semi-final against Davydenko, even though the latter never accompanied them in the tournament. "Some things escaped me because they spent a lot of time together. I can't tell you more because at that time I didn't have Mariano with me anymore". One day before the final, Andrés Schneiter lost control of his player... "When Mariano called me to tell me that he had tested positive, it was a shock. I went to his apartment, finally the one in Estevanez, which was in the same building. I went in and asked him, "What did you take? ». And he said, "I don't know. And I know that "I don't know" was a lie. We shared everything, a bit like husband and wife (sic). All day long, for a year and a half. We knew each other, we knew when the other was lying or telling the truth. And then I felt that he had not been honest with me. [7]". But even if his former player was not, in his opinion, honest with him, the young coach doubts that the former player was doping voluntarily. "I think he took something without knowing it and that it was pure negligence. In my opinion, he didn't do it on purpose, saying, "I'll take this and see what happens" (...) Dario Lecman had had a lot of problems before. He may have said to him, "Take this, big boy, it will turn you right, you won't feel anything in your leg and nothing will happen". Or maybe the fat guy (sic) who didn't care about anything begged him "Give it to me please, I'm going to play anyway! ». Far from wanting to stop there, Andrés Schneiter tries to find out more from the former weightlifter. Alas, he doesn't feel any more honesty on his part, to the point of even putting forward the hypothesis of a pact between the two men. "I felt that they were not faithful to many things. They told each other everything, they blamed each other and when Puerta came back to play, they were together. So, what do you think? There seemed to be an agreement between them about something I never understood. I can assure you that I was left out of it. » This quotation having been reported to Dario Lecman, the latter is ironic. "Yes, we went back to training together two years later. But if you tell me that someone messed up your career and you're ready to work with them again, I'll tell you that there's a mess in your head." Claudio Henschke, coach of the Argentinean weightlifting team doesn't believe in Andrés Schneiter's assumptions. "Dario was an athlete too and he's not an idiot," he says categorically.  

Alas, we won't know more... A precious testimony is missing, however, that of Mariano Puerta's lawyer, Eduardo Moliné O'Connor, vice-president of the Supreme Court of Justice until 2003 and vice-president of the Argentinean Tennis Association from 1986 to 2005. For good reason, the latter died in 2014. Is this one of the reasons why Mariano Puerta was able to unveil the subterfuge of the "glass theory", a version constructed from scratch by his lawyer? It is quite possible that the ex-player would not have let himself go to this revelation if the former ITF member had still been alive? Since this revelation, Andrés Schneiter has been able to talk to Mariano Puerta again during a detour through Miami. He confessed last October that he had accepted his former foal's new version of the contaminated pills, even though he admits "not to put his hand in the fire for Mariano" [9]. For the coach who accepted this substitute version, a mystery remains. "I really don't understand why he threw that bomb 15 years later," he admits then, doubtful. Reading all these elements, it is clear that the revelation of the former top 10 to Nacion provides few answers to this affair. Ultimately, it only brings to light one of the biggest scandals in the history of tennis, opening up even more hypotheses and interpretations. The truth, however, will not cease to be awaited.

Episode 6 to follow: One Man Too Many


[1] https://www.lanacion.com.ar/deportes/fue-mentira-a-15-anos-su-doping-nid2410713
[2] https://www.clarin.com/deportes/forneris-duda-lesion-lecman_0_BJXFjQbRFe.html
[3] https://www.clarin.com/deportes/forneris-duda-lesion-lecman_0_BJXFjQbRFe.html
[4] https://www.lanacion.com.ar/deportes/tenis/su-ex-coach-la-defensa-no-estuvo-bien-nid767459/
[5] https://www.lanacion.com.ar/deportes/fue-mentira-a-15-anos-su-doping-nid2410713
[6] https://www.lanacion.com.ar/deportes/fue-mentira-a-15-anos-su-doping-nid2410713
[7] ibid
[8] https://www.clarin.com/deportes/forneris-duda-lesion-lecman_0_BJXFjQbRFe.html
[9] http://www.radionacional.com.ar/river-jugara-en-el-river-camp/

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