By Monika Prell
Oscar Pereiro blasted the media today for linking his name with the Operación Puerto, and vehemently denied that his is at all involved in the case. Last Tuesday, the Italian newspaper Il Giornale alleged that blood bags, marked with the name of 'Urko', belong to the Caisse d'Epargne rider, and that Urko is the name of Pereiro's dog, something the Spaniard fiercely denied.
In an interview with El Mundo, Pereiro stated that "the pathetic journalism that some practice, the fact that they make up rumours to disperse a lie" outrages him. "It's the fault of an website that wants to link me to the Operación Puerto saying that Urko is a mythological dog of Galicia, but in reality this dog is written with 'c'," claimed the cyclists who is born in Mos (Galicia), and added that "Urko with 'k' is a mountain in the Basque country." Urko, in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, is situated between Eibar, Ermua and Markina.
Pereiro feels injured and so he decided today to file charges against the Italian newspaper. "Now it's enough, from now on I will file charges against all who accuse me without having proof," he threatened.
The 29 year-old declared that, "I have never talked to Eufemiano Fuentes, I don't know him at all and I don't know why they want to link me to him. I have never seen him in my life. I am willing to deliver my DNA so that they can compare it with the necessary things."
Pereiro did not discount the possibility that the publication in the Italian press is part of a strategy to keep him from claiming the 2006 Tour de France victory, something that could occur if Floyd Landis, the winner of last year's edition, will not be able to clear his name of the doping charges. Landis' arbitration hearing regarding his positive result for synthetic testosterone is currently ongoing in Malibu, California.
"I don't know what will happen, but I have to say that in the last Tour, I was the smartest one. I joined a breakaway group and gained back a half hour," he said. "If they don't want me to race in the Tour, they should clearly tell me. Cycling doesn't end with the Tour de France, if they don't let me start, that's no big deal, I will stay here and compete the Vuelta a España," he said to El Mundo.
However, Galician is disappointed with the publicity, and the fact that cyclists are constantly accused without basis. "I am bored and tired of the fact that people are accused only for signs. We have to realise a general change in the cycling, at all levels, but, above all, in the direction. It's outrageous that we, the riders, have to prove our innocence. I am willing to deliver all, but if I have to prove my innocence via my DNA, I will leave cycling, because it's clear that cycling in this form is not worth it."
According to El Mundo, he even speculated that there exists a campaign against him and against the entire team Caisse d'Epargne. "They lash out at Alejandro Valverde, me, etc. They begrudge us the great team we have. But they are not only attacking cycling, but also the Spanish sport in general. I believe that anybody should defend us, perhaps Jaime Lissavetzky [the Spanish sport minister] himself. There exists a persecution against all things Spanish."