Positive or not? Oscar Pereiro has some explaining to do to the French if he wants to lay claim to tPIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Pereiro has to justify Tour "positive"By Jeff Jones Oscar Pereiro, the potential winner of the 2006 Tour de France, is having to justify himself to the French anti-doping agency (AFLD), which believes he twice tested positive for salbutamol during the race. Le Monde reported the story yesterday, and it has provoked another storm of controversy over the validity of the maillot jaune. Pereiro is not looking down the barrel of disqualification yet, and says that he will produce the necessary documentation to satisfy the AFLD. The central issue is that the AFLD has a stricter interpretation of the therapeutic use exemption (TUE) code for certain drugs than does the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Pereiro had submitted a TUE certificate to use salbutamol - a drug commonly used to treat asthma - to the UCI. Thus, although he tested positive twice for the drug (after stage 14 and stage 16), it was allowed under UCI and WADA rules. "I used Ventolin (which contains salbutamol) because the UCI allowed me to do so," he told Spanish radio Cadena Ser. The AFLD, which has a degree of jurisdiction over sports doping cases in France, isn't convinced that Pereiro was an asthmatic. In August, the agency asked the Spaniard three times to prove it, but did not get a response. His Caisse d'Epargne team said that Pereiro received letters from the AFLD in October and November. "He had the documents but forgot to respond to the agency, it is carelessness," said team spokesman Francis Lafargue. "The AFLD will receive all the documents required before the end of the week." The UCI does not consider Pereiro to be a positive case, but if his documentation doesn't satisfy the AFLD by January 25, then they will start disciplinary proceedings against him. If they find him guilty, he could be stripped of his Tour placing and be banned from racing it next year. And Pereiro isn't the only rider who has to prove himself. According to Le Monde, there are six others in a very similar situation, although their names haven't been released. But another five riders have successfully justified their TUEs to the AFLD. The AFLD does have the power to ban Pereiro from racing in France, and it wouldn't be the first time that a Spanish yellow jersey wearer has fallen foul of the French anti-doping body. In 2002, Pereiro's compatriot Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano tested "positive" for salbutamol while in yellow. The AFLD (CPLD, as it was known then) wanted to exclude him from the race straight away, but the UCI and WADA said he could stay. However, De Galdeano was later banned by the CPLD from competing in France for six months. This would have prevented him from racing in the 2003 Tour, had he not broken his collarbone. Spanish Tour legend Miguel Indurain also tested positive for salbutamol in the '90s, but he too was able to justify its use on therapeutic grounds. While to some it may seem like a quibble over rules interpretation, to the detriment of cycling, AFLD president Pierre Bordry thinks that there is genuine cause for concern. "60 percent of the 105 riders tested had a medical certificate," he told Le Monde. "That high number alarms me. It raises serious doubts and one suspects that certain riders are hiding doping practices." Brochard in two minds about Oz experienceBy Ellis Bacon in Adelaide He may be the elder statesman of the Tour Down Under bunch - the oldest rider here at 38, compared to the youngest, New Zealand's 19-year-old Clinton Avery - but Laurent Brochard is enjoying his sunny season-start as much as the rest of them, isn't he? "This seems to be a really well organised race, and I can see why they're talking about it maybe becoming part of an 'internationalised' ProTour," he told Procycling at the start of stage three in Stirling. "These days, there are more and more what you could call 'exotic' races, like this one, like the Tour of California and like the Tour of Qatar, and the riders like it because we get to see other scenery, other mentalities and other cultures, but the problem is that a race like this comes very early in the season," Brochard continued. "It means that the season gets stretched out and we almost lose the off-season completely, and that's tough, as you need a long rest period in road racing. "Saying that, most teams have a structure that allows them to cover the season, with 30 riders on the roster," the Bouygues Telecom rider said, arguing himself back the other way, before swinging once more: "But it is hard in the current climate to stretch the budgets of teams to travel so far." Hattrick of third places for CSC The Tour Down Under is developing into a collection of third places for Team CSC. In Friday's third stage, debutant Matthew Goss completed the hat-trick by crossing the finish line third behind stage winner Baden Cooke (Unibet) and second place Chris Jongewaard (UniSA). In first stage Lars Bak was responsible for another third place and in second stage it was Stuart O'Grady - and to complete the picture - in the overall standings Bak is also still third. Friday's 128 km stage from Stirling to Victor Harbor turned out similar to the two previous stages. A large group escaped early and this time it was 19 riders, who were all more than 26 minutes behind in the overall standings. Apart from Goss, Team CSC also had Matti Breschel in the break. "We did well out there again. Matthew and Matti worked really hard to increase the gap to the peloton. Unfortunately Matti was dropped shortly before the finish and in the end Cooke had the advantage of experience," said director Scott Sunderland. "The opportunity for Lars and Luke to challenge the overall standings didn't present itself after a large group escaping early again. But on Saturday there's a good climb at the finish, which we've been training on ahead of the race. It's about five kilometres and probably about six or seven percent so that will most likely be our last chance to make a difference," concluded Sunderland. Polygon look nice for Langkawi It's made an impact over the past two years in all the Indonesian races, but finally Polygon-Sweet Nice is making its debut Asia's biggest race - Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) in Malaysia from February 2nd-11th. Polygon had been confirmed as the Indonesian outfit to race in this 12th edition of the LTdL, long before it was known that regulars Wismilak had folded prior to the 2007 UCI Asia Tour season. This is mainly because the squad that has five-time Kazakh national mountain bike champion Yevgeniy Yakovlev as its leader, has impressed on Indonesian soil - its fortunes charted by the passionate, cycling mad businessman-cum-directeur sportif Harijanto Tjondro, who also owns the team. Based in Surabaya, home of the Tour of East Java, which is also organised by Harijanto, continental team Polygon has enjoyed a meteoric rise. It's mainly due to the presence of their two versatile Kazakh riders Yakovlev and Vyacheslav Dyadichkin, who last year finished fifth in the Asian classification of LTdL riding for composite team Equipe Asia. Also in the squad is Russian teenager Artemiy Timofeev, who coincidentally was trained as a junior by Yakovlev's father. Eyes will also be out for the 21-year old Hari Fitrianto, who many tout as the next big climber out of that country. Completing Polygon-Sweet Nice's line-up are domestiques Budi Santoso and Jaya Herwin, with the promising sprinter Robert Wijaya only being named as a reserve. Yakovlev, who has many friends in Malaysia and often uses the country as a short training stop, said he will be all out to prove his worth in the LTdL this time around. "I'm 27 years old this year and this is when I expect my form to start being what it should be," he said. "Many people said that I showed a lot of promise when I was a junior, but still I haven't realised that potential. Polygon gives me the opportunity to prove myself and try to improve my palmares at a decent level with races like LTdL." Hari, who many would like to see challenging the big guns in the mountain stages, doesn't want himself to be projected out of context. "I only can try my best. Don't go around telling people I will win this and win that," joked Hari, during the Jelajah Malaysia recently. "Of course, everybody, especially us Asians, will want to do well in this race because it is a big thing in our continent. But I think if I keep on improving, I will get somewhere sooner or later. So, that is what I will be aiming to do. Time is on my side." Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.