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Doping charge costs Petacchi his Tour berth July 5, 2007

Posted by dperry1ma in Alessandro Petacchi, Andriy Grivko, CONI, Erik Zabel, Milram, Team Milram.
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From Velo News

Alessandro Petacchi lost his spot on Milram’s Tour de France team on Wednesday after being charged with doping by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), according to Agence France Presse.

CONI’s anti-doping prosecutor, Ettore Torri, asked the Italian cycling federation (FCI) to ban the 33-year-old sprinter for one year following a “non-negative” doping test after the third of his five stage wins at the Giro d’Italia.

The urine sample Petacchi gave at Pinerolo on May 23 showed an unusually high level of salbutamol, a substance primarily used to treat asthma.

“We signed the ProTour Code of Ethics, and and under the terms of this code, a rider suspected of having recourse to doping cannot be allowed to race,” said Gerry van Gerwen, Milram’s general manager.

Salbutamol is a banned substance, but riders suffering from asthma are allowed restricted use of the drug if they can provide a medical certificate. Petacchi has such a certificate, having suffered from asthma for many years.

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list notes, however, that riders whose urine samples show a concentration of salbutamol greater than 1000 nanograms per milliliter must prove that the elevated level is a result of normal therapeutic use. If a rider with a Therapeutic Use Exemption produces a level lower than 1000 ng/mL the burden of proof falls to anti-doping authorities, if they wish to show a doping violation.

Petacchi produced a level higher than the upper limit and must now show that he did not take the drug orally or inject it and that his use of the inhaler was in keeping with its normal therapeutic use.

Studies have shown that in addition to aiding in the treatment of asthma, salbutamol can be used to increase an athlete’s anaerobic power. According to study results, peak power appeared significantly earlier and was noticeably increased after salbutamol use.

The urine sample taken at Pinerolo was the only one of the five doping tests Petacchi gave that showed an excessive amount of salbutamol.

The Italian sprinter will be replaced on Milram’s Tour team by Ukrainian Andriy Grivko, according to Agence France Presse. But the rider who will take center stage in Petacchi’s absence is Erik Zabel. The 36-year-old German sprinter has won the Tour’s green-jersey competition six times and was victorious in 12 stages between 1995 and 2002.

Zabel has himself admitted to doping, saying he took EPO in 1996.

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