PEREIRO: “ALL A MASSIVE MISUNDERSTANDING”
2006 Tour runner-up Oscar Pereiro has hit back at allegations of him testing positive in the 2006 Tour de France and that he has no need for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) certificate for banned drug salbutamol by saying that it’s all due to a “massive misunderstanding.” - and computer problems at his doctor’s surgery.
A report in Thursday’s evenings edition of Le Monde claiming that Pereiro had “tested positive for a banned drug.” during the 2006 Tour and accusing him of not supplying important medical documents provoked uproar in Spain, and Pereiro hastily convened a press conference to explain exactly what was going on.
“I have had all my papers in order for a long time about his case and I will prove it to the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) as soon as possible.” Pereiro said in reply to the French threats of disciplinary action if he does not finally respond to three letters demanding scientific proof he is an asthmatic and therefore needs the drug.
Pereiro insisted that he has been treated as an asthmatic for the last three years by a hospital in Vigo, Galicia and that he could prove this without any problems. He claims the only reason why he has yet to send any documents to the AFLD was because of “computer problems” in the hospital. The evidence will now be sent by fax and registered post on Monday - five days before the AFLD has threatened to open up a disciplinary hearing.
“I was tested 10 times during the Tour and in all of them I had my ‘health booklet’ which shows clearly that I can use Ventolin” - the commercial form of salbutamol - “and that I take it when it’s necessary. The UCI have accepted this and there is no problem.”
Pereiro’s urine revealed traces of salbutamol after two stages - for 158 and 159 nanograms. The WADA permitted ‘ceiling’ for athletes with a TUE is 1000 nanograms.
“158 nanograms would the usual amount present in the organism of someone using salbutamol for therapeutic purposes, not for doping.” International Athletes Federation Anti-Doping Commission Director Juan Manuel Alonso said on Friday.
This is far from being the first time salbutamol, a Spanish cyclist and the French anti-doping agencies have formed the ingredients of a ‘doping scandal’ and a spat between the two countries.
In 1994, Miguel Indurain, a recognised asthmatic, tested positive for the same substance in the Tour de L’Oise, and was accused by the French anti-dopiing agencies of drug use. Indurain duly produced his TUE and the case was dropped. In 2002, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, race leader in the Tour for seve ndays, was charged with illicity using the same substance by French anti-doping authorities. Suspended for six months that year in France, Gonzalez de Galdeano ignored the ban and took part in events on French soil anyway. Nothing happened.
The news that Pereiro had been found ‘positive’ in France has been greeted with considerable scepticism in the Spanish press. “Le Monde is the same newspaper that accused four major Spanish soccer teams of having links with [controversial Spanish medic] Eufemiano Fuentes.” sports daily MARCA wrote in an editiorial on Friday, before pointing out that “A month and a half later, Le Monde still hasn’t come up with any proof of those links. This [the Pereiro story] is a hoax.”