June 27, 2007
Petacchi hearing will decide Tour fate
Team Milram's Alessandro Petacchi, one of the sport's outstanding sprinters, faces a hearing to explain his high reading for salbutamol during the Giro d'Italia last month. The UCI notified Italian officials yesterday that Petacchi is officially “non-negative” after registering a salbutamol level of 1,320 nanograms/millileter after his Stage 11 Giro win in Pinerolo.
Salbutamol is a common asthma medication that can have stimulant and anabolic effects at high doses. Many endurance athletes, including Petacchi, have therapeutic use exemptions allowing them to use inhaled salbutamol to address exercise-induced asthma. The World Anti-Doping Agency tries to control salbutamol levels by setting a limit of 1000 nanograms/milliliter in rider urine samples. A higher level is an “adverse analytical finding,” which shifts the burden of proof onto the athlete, who must prove the finding resulted from use of a salbutamol inhaler.
Petacchi has asked for an immediate hearing before CONI, the Italian Olympic committee, so he may clear his name before the Tour. He told La Gazzetta dello Sport:
“Why would I have done something different from other times? I have the responsibility of the team on my shoulders, with the sponsors that are always speaking against doping.
“Yes, I may have done one spray more, but I have done nothing illegal. I do not want to lose the Tour.”
Petacchi has won 4 Tour stages in his career, all in 2003. He was dominant in this year's Giro, winning 5 stages. He has been left off the start list for this weekend's Italian national championship.
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