In the irony of ironies, Spanish cyclist Oscar Pereiro is being questioned by French anti-doping authorities for two failed drug tests during the Tour de France.
The number 2 finisher in last year's Tour, Pereiro, left, had been all but annointed with the yellow jersey as 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis fights accusations that he doped during the Tour. If Landis loses the fight, he loses the Tour title.
If Pereiro can't satisfactorily respond to the doping accusations, the title might go to — bear with me while I look this up — No. 3 finisher Andreas Kloden (Germany) of T-Mobile. But the French newspaper Le Monde says six other unidentified cyclists are being challenged.
As we go down the GC, we don't get to a Frenchman until AG2R's Cyril Dresser in No. 7. That might sound a little fishy, but Le Monde reported that some of the cyclists being challenged were Frenchmen.
The French opened the inquiry into Pereiro after he tested positive twice for salbutamol, an asthma medication. While the World Anti-Doping Agency allows a therapeutic use exemption for the drug, the French anti-dopers have a stricter interpretation, explains ProCycling.
Since he had the exemption, the positive test was no biggy, as far as WADA and the UCI (cycling's governing body) were concerned. However, the French don't believe that Pereiro is asthmatic and want proof.
He was notified by the French in October and November, but forgot to respond, said his Caisse d'Epargne team spokesman. If he doesn't respond by Jan. 25, the French will open disciplinary proceedings. Ditto with the other unidentified cyclists who haven't responded.
See Trust but Verify for more about the Pereiro and Landis cases, including a translation of the Le Monde story that broke the news about Pereiro. Also, look here for TBV's story about the French anti-doping agency calling in American cyclist Landis for a Feb. 8 hearing.
While the US Anti-Doping Agency has jurisdiction over whether Landis can keep his license, the French agency can determine whether or not he can race in France, regardless of what the USADA concludes.