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McQuaid calls for fewer certificates permitting banned substances

UCI President Pat McQuaid

UCI President Pat McQuaid (Image credit: Gregor Brown)

UCI President Pat McQuaid asked for tighter regulations to close loopholes in current anti-doping policies. He highlighted the widespread permitted use of banned substances under the UCI's program which provides Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) certificates for many riders.

"There are too many (certificates), the moment has come to study new and more rigorous rules," said McQuaid to Gazzetta dello Sport Saturday. "There are riders who truly have need to use these substances but we realize also that the system has been coerced for the profit of some riders."

In an effort to address anti-doping concerns, McQuaid recently asked all Tour de France riders to sign the UCI's new charter against doping. "Our sport is in danger because of doping," he said. "I cannot accept that doping practices are tolerated. I call this 'zero tolerance.'"

As previously reported, at last year's Tour de France, there were 13 positive tests for performance-enhancing substances 13 times, but in 12 of those cases, there were 'therapeutic use exemptions' (TUE). All the cyclists concerned were thus able to prove that they needed the substances to treat illnesses, except one: Floyd Landis, who could not produce a TUE for his high testosterone:epitestosterone ratio. In fact, 60 of the 105 total riders subjected to doping controls during the Tour had TUEs which allowed them to use prohibited substances in competition.

McQuaid's comments come only days before Milram's star sprinter Alessandro Petacchi will appear in front of Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) at an anti-doping hearing, scheduled for Monday. His 'non-negative' result came from the 2007 Giro d'Italia. The sprinter took his third of five Giro stage wins in Pinerolo on a rain-soaked day (May 23) ahead of a massive crash but afterwards his post-race control revealed high levels of Salbutamol (asthma drug) in his urine.

Petacchi had 1320 nanograms of Salbutamol in his sample. WADA allows 1000 ng/ml. The rider has raced for years with TUEs for Salbutamol treating his asthma. His case is similar to that of Igor González de Galdeano, who in the 2002 Tour de France registered a reading of 1360. The UCI did not count this as a 'positive' and it allowed the Spaniard to continue racing. Petacchi hopes to start in the Tour de France on July 7. In the meantime, at least until a verdict comes out of Monday's hearing, Petacchi's team Milram has suspended him pending a resolution of the case.

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