By Antonio J. Salmerón
José Antonio Pecharroman passed some hard times due to the drug finasteride (or Propecia). Like footballer Romário de Souza Faria, the 29 year-old Spanish cyclist tested 'positive' for the anti-balding drug, which was previously believed to be a masking agent for anabolic steroids.
LagosBike, the company that manages Spanish Professional Continental Team Benfica, seemed ready to unilaterally terminate the contract of the climber, however as of January 1, 2008, finasteride will be removed from World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) banned product list.
Jordi Segura, head of the anti-doping laboratory in Barcelona, explained in the daily newspaper El País the reason why finasteride will not banned in the future. He noted that it was originally thought that the drug could hide the use of anabolic steroids, but in fact for at least two years, the techniques used by laboratories have been so effective that even if an athlete took finasteride steroids could still be detected.
"Methods are so accurate now that there is always a way to track, although small, the possible use of anabolic steroids, so it makes no sense that the finasteride continues to be seen as a 'positive' since it does not serve to mask any other substance," commented Segura.