MADRID (VN) – Óscar Pereiro on Tuesday angrily denied doping allegations leveled against him by Floyd Landis.
VeloNews asked the now-retired Pereiro to comment on an interview with journalist Paul Kimmage that was posted on NYVelocity.com on Monday. In the interview, Kimmage asked Landis about the final time trial of the 2006 Tour. Pereiro went into the time trial with the yellow jersey, but Landis took it back and went on to win the Tour. Later, Landis was disqualified and the title went to Pereiro.
In the interview, Kimmage was shocked when Landis described discussions about doping even between rivals at the Tour.
Landis: I know Pereiro and I know he wasn’t going to have any new tricks that he hadn’t already tried so…I had talked to him about it and he told me that he had another blood transfusion to do but I still wasn’t concerned because I was a better time triallist than him regardless…
Kimmage: You talked to him about it?
Landis: Yeah, we talked openly about this in the peloton, that’s why I couldn’t believe no one did this before I did it. We literally just spoke openly; he did a blood transfusion and some artificial haemoglobin.
Kimmage: You’re kidding me!
Landis: Yeah, and then he threw me under the bus (laughs) and I put up with it for four years!
Pereiro was attending the Movistar team presentation Tuesday in Madrid and said he had not read the interview, but he did respond to questions by VeloNews about Landis’s allegations.
Here’s what Pereiro had to say:
Q.Óscar, there was an interview with Landis who made some strong claims against you …
A. A journalist just told me about it a few minutes ago, I haven’t read it.
Q. In that interview, Landis says he claims he saw you dope …
A. In 2006?
Q. No, he claims during your time together at Phonak, that he says he saw you partake in doping practices, how do you respond to those claims?
A. To be frank, I am not going into a game like this. I believe that during my entire cycling career that I never had any sort of problem with doping. I am not going to respond to something like from someone like Floyd Landis, who did test positive. I believe what he’s said and done these past few years has left him with very little credibility. It’s too bad, because he was a cool guy, but it’s really annoying what he’s doing in the manner that he’s doing it.
Q. You were teammates with him at Phonak, you knew each other well …
A. Yes, we were teammates at Phonak and we got along well, but the Floyd Landis that the world is seeing since 2006 is not the same person that I knew. If he wants to attack me, well, I am not going to enter into this game.
Q. Landis also claimed that you and he spoke about doping and that he asked you if you had a surprise in store before the final time trial of the 2006 Tour, is that true?
A. That is an absolute lie. I never spoke to Floyd Landis about doping. I never spoke to Floyd before the time trial. I was in my hotel, then we rode the course, then we went to the stage, I never spoke with him with about anything like that. This is just amazing! The UCI can tell me if I ever doped. I am not going to keep on going with this story. It will just give it more publicity that it doesn’t deserve. He can say whatever he wants.
Q. Spanish officials recently revealed that the code name Urko used in the Operación Puerto doping scandal belonged to another athlete (track and field athlete Marta Domínguez), not to you, does that give you some sort of relief?
A.Relief? No, because I was also tranquil from the beginning because I knew there was no truth to that story. That story did cause me some harm, especially in light of the Tour de France, because they didn’t want to give me the yellow jersey (in 2007). I took legal action against the Italian newspaper because they published something that was completely false. It was a confirmation to people that believed in me. I never lost the inner peace that I had about it. Remember, it was Floyd Landis who tested positive, not me.
Q. So you can say that your Tour de France victory in 2006 was clean? Without doping?
A. I am going to repeat – we are here at a team presentation — I am innocent. Why do I have to prove my innocence? I am not guilty. I’m innocent. To be honest, I am not going to enter into some bullshit game like this. All I can say is that there is a lot of envy and bad feelings involving a lot of people in this sport. It started with Lance, now with Floyd, everyone will see that they are wrong.
Q. From testimony like Landis and others, it appears that cycling was very dirty, do you think that’s a fair perception and has the sport cleaned up at all?
A. Cycling has, is and will evolve and continue to do so. The sport is very controlled (with anti-doping testing). But just like everything in life, there are politicians who are corrupt, bankers who steal, so there will always be athletes who try to cheat or play dirty. I believe that cycling is very clean. It’s very controlled, it’s very difficult to try to cheat, and I think over time this will be revealed. It’s taken awhile to assimilate the changes the sport has undergone, what we’ve done to clean up our sport. There’s been a lot of shit the past few years, but I hope that we can turn the page and everyone can see the beauty and value this sport offers.