By Staff and wire reports
Alessandro Petacchi, who produced a suspicious urine sample when tested for doping at the Giro d’Italia in May, attended a hearing at the headquarters of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in Rome on Monday.
The 33-year-old Milram sprinter was quizzed by CONI’s anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri for two hours as he attempted to clear his name by explaining how his use of the asthma drug Salbutamol was purely therapeutic.
Petacchi hopes to prove his innocence so that he can take his place at the Tour de France, which starts next Saturday. The team has named Petacchi to its team, but he would be replaced if he loses his case.
“I tried to explain that I acted in good faith,” Petacchi said after leaving the hearing.
Asked if he felt confident that he would be at the Tour de France, Petacchi said he was uncertain.
“It depends on the prosecutors,” he said.
Torri, who is also interviewing Gianluigi Stanga, team manager of Petacchi’s Milram team, promised a swift decision on Petacchi.”It will be done very quickly,” Torri said.
Petacchi won five stages at this year’s Giro, however last month it was revealed he tested positive for elevated levels of Salbutamol.Salbutamol is a banned substance but riders suffering from asthma are allowed restricted use of the drug if they can provide a medical certificate. 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, who holds the proper TUE, 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.
If found guilty of cheating, Petacchi could be banned from cycling for two years.
Petacchi’s urine sample taken at Pinerolo was the only one of the five doping tests he gave that showed an excessive amount of Salbutamol.
(Agence France Presse and VeloNews.com editor Charles Pelkey contributed to this report)