Oscar Pereiro took it to journalists on a Spanish talk show when he vehemently defended cycling against media bias that he says favors soccer.
The 2006 Tour de France champion blew up when a panel of journalists criticized cycling’s doping past, saying that the media treat soccer different than cycling when it comes to doping cases.
Referring to Spanish soccer players who tested positive during their careers, Pereiro said the media are quick to label a cyclist as a cheat while footballers are given the benefit of the doubt.
“Giovanella was positive, Gurpegui, Guardiola … and all because they took energy mixes. If a cyclist takes it, they’re positive,” Pereiro said. “All of San Mamés, Balaidos, Barcelona (stadiums) yell ‘innocent!’ and later I have to put on a mask just to walk down the street.”
An indignant Pereiro even cited a reference by former superstar Zinedine Zidane, who supposedly told French singer Johnny Hallyday that he used blood transfusions in Switzerland twice a year during his playing years.
“Zidane has admitted that he underwent blood transfusions in Switzerland to regenerate his body. That’s a positive in cycling,” he said. “The problem is the difference between the journalist and the public who interpret the cyclist is doped, and if the other does the same thing, it’s taking care of themselves or fighting for the colors of your club.”
Pereiro has had his name dragged through the mud. Initially, he was linked to the Operación Puerto doping scandal by one of the nicknames used by ringleader Eufemiano Fuentes.
That nickname — “urko” — was later linked to Spanish track and field star Marta Dominguez, who was involved, yet later cleared, in the Operación Galgo doping investigation this winter in Spain.
Floyd Landis, who saw his 2006 Tour victory stripped and passed on to runner-up Pereiro, has said that Pereiro doped when they were teammates on Phonak. Pereiro has denied those allegations.
Pereiro also defended cycling, saying that 10 percent of a rider’s salary is dedicated toward anti-doping efforts.
“No hay cojones (no one has the balls) to tell the truth story about Operación Puerto in this country,” Pereiro said. “Don’t even bring up Fuentes. Hopefully some day Fuentes will stand up and say everything he knows. A lot of those bags found in the raids had ‘European championship’ written on them. There isn’t a European championships in cycling. It’s all been an embarrassment.”
Pereiro retired at the end of the 2010 season and has been working as a journalist in radio and television.