<
>

Pereiro: 'Now I consider myself the winner'

8/5/2006

VIGO, Spain -- Oscar Pereiro no longer thinks of himself as runner-up in the Tour de France.

"Now I consider myself the winner," he told a press conference
in his hometown on Saturday.

The Tour itself renounced Floyd Landis as its champion Saturday after the second of two urine samples tested positive for higher-than-allowable levels of testosterone. Pierre Bordry, who leads the French anti-doping council, said the samples contained
synthetic testosterone, indicating that it came from an outside
source.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said Landis was no
longer considered champion.

Runner-up Pereiro would be the likely new winner, but Prudhomme
said the decision to strip Landis of the title rests with the
International Cycling Union.

Pereiro said he felt badly for Landis, whom he thought must be
living the worst days of his life.

"I consider him my friend, it surprised me and hurt me to hear
what had happened to him," he said.

But Pereiro said he regretted not having been able to celebrate
a win properly, in Paris, wearing the winner's yellow jersey,
having his photograph taken on the podium.

"I would have liked to have lived that day, it would have been
the best day of my life, as a sportsman," Pereiro said.

He said riders at the Tour had undergone 400 doping tests.
Landis has said he was tested nine times, and Pereiro said Saturday
he went through four doping checks.

"The bad thing is that the winner should have failed," Pereiro said. "I trust Floyd, but the analysis shows he may have broken a rule. He failed an anti-doping test. If you fail the norms set, then you have to be withdrawn."