Alessandro Petacchi will return to racing tomorrow in the Regio Tour and he has promised to keep going for seven more years. A positive test for Ventolin (asthma drug) forced the 33 year-old Italian sprinter to skip the Tour de France while the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) pursued its investigation but a return this week and in the September's Vuelta a España shows his fight has not faded.
"I would not wish on anyone what I have passed through," commented the rider from La Spezia in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, breaking a silence of two months. The doping control results of the rain-soaked Giro d'Italia Pinerolo stage were released on June 12 and since then his world has been spinning faster than he would like. "For me it was a nightmare. And even though I was acquitted, I am no longer calm. I don't consider this incident over with and it will not be forgotten.
"I was considered doped for an incident in which doping does not even come into consideration. It was a medicine and I had a prescription, taken with good faith and transparency for documented allergies. And if the limits were passed the experts have demonstrated why." He was asked if he could have done it all over again. "It was not an error or even a lack of discretion but a necessity. You are not able to breathe, you think twice, maybe three times, then maybe take the medicine, hoping that the conditions don't happen that make you surpass the limits."
He remarked on the bad publicity. "The magistrates know what they do, and do what they have to. The journalists, if they mistake an adjective, risk ruining your reputation. ... The suffering, physically and morally, lives you with more grit, more resolution."
Petacchi has no plans of stopping and will search for more wins, even going into his forties. The bike "I like. Like before; more than before. I have it in my blood. ... To win is a pleasure more than a necessity. And, if I am able to stay competitive, I will race until I am 40 years-old. ... I am looking for my best form, the right rhythm, an explosive sprint. Then the stages and jerseys that come, will come."
He will return tomorrow in the five-day Regio Tour and then race in the Vuelta a España (September 1 to 23, where he has already won 17 stages) and the sprinters' classic Paris-Tours (October 14).