Petacchi turns on the press

Alessandro Petacchi yesterday found his fighting spirit ahead of Milan-San Remo by confronting journ

Alessandro Petacchi yesterday found his fighting spirit ahead of Milan-San Remo by confronting journ
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Four days short of Milan-San Remo, the man known in Italy as the 'Gentleman Sprinter', Alessandro Petacchi, has suddenly located his nasty streak in a furious attack on La Repubblica journalist Eugenio Capodacqua. Petacchi squared up to Capodacqua in San Benedetto del Tronto following the Fassa Bortolo rider's victory in the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. The source of the Italian sprinter's ire was a Capodacuqa article published last Sunday featuring extracts from the 2001 diary of a former rider, identified simply as A.T, and currently under investigation in the Rome-based 'Oil for Drugs' doping inquiry. The extracts were unsparing in their details of the rider's doping practices - including his use of EPO, human growth hormone, testosterone, the growth hormone stimulator IGF3 and anabolic steroids. Called to the San Benedetto press room to answer questions about his latest win and prospects for Saturday's Classicissima, Petacchi was outraged when he spied Capodacqua. "In your opinion, is it right to publish extracts from a diary which refers to 2001, trying to cause a scandal? And belonging to an athlete whose name we don't even know?" he asked. "Because, in your opinion things have changed since then?" Capodacqua retorted. "Yes, they have changed a lot. Just a few minutes ago I signed a form telling the World Anti-Doping Agency exactly where I will be at all times over the next three months. Over the course of a season, my colleagues and I submit ourselves to a long series of dope tests and the war on doping goes on with the riders in the front line." "OK," said Capodaqua, "You show me your diaries." "You're offending me," Petacchi replied. "I don't find this ongoing victimisation of cycling right. What we need is a cross-cultural combat which spans all sports. We can't be passed off as the laughing stock of the sporting world." Petacchi went on to contrast the widespread coverage of drugs scandals in cycling with what he believes is almost grudging media interest in similar controversies in soccer. To illustrate his point, Petacchi pointed to the scandals involving footballers Edgar Davids and Adrian Mutu, found positive for nandrolone and cocaine respectively. Petacchi also said that he would snub press conferences in which Capodacqua is present from now on. It remains to be seen whether being denied access to one of Italian cycling's leading figures will deter Capodcaqua. A staunch campaigner against doping in sport, the Repubblica reporter's outspoken views have frequently made him the target of riders' animosity. In Capodcqua's account of the incident on his website, sportpro.it, he wrote today "it's the dope tests which don't work, and this is the accusation that La Repubblica is trying to make". On Sunday, Capodacqua had quoted diary entries from the unidentified rider documenting rampant use of EPO and anabolic steroids (396 doses in one year) without a single failed dope test.

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