Alessandro Petacchi made an emotional defence against his ban for a high level of Salbutamol at the Giro d?Italia on Tuesday.
Looking pale and unshaven, 34 year-old Petacchi was close to tears on several occasions as he answered questions from newspaper journalists live on television.
He insisted he did not intentionally do anything wrong and claimed his positive for Salbutamol was due to an excessive use of his asthma inhaler. He has a medical certificate to use a limited amount of Salbutamol but was banned until August 31 for exceeding his limit.
?I?m paying for an act of injustice but I?ve never thought about retiring,? Petacchi said.
?My case is unusual because I wasn?t positive for doping, the judges said that several times in their sentence. I didn?t cheat or break the rules. I failed the test and was banned because I had a health problem and used my inhaler too much.?
?I risked getting a two year or even a life ban. WADA was tough on me, but fortunately the CAS was not too bad. They did me a favour and cut my time so that my ban ends on August 31 but it?s still a year?s ban.?
Petacchi was at the Giro with his managers for talks with several teams. According to reports in the Italian Tuttosport newspaper, both the Lampre and Saunier Duval teams are interested in signing him for the rest of the season if he can get a two-day reduction of his ban so that he can ride the Vuelta Espana that starts on August 30.
?The Milram team has always been honest with me but when I realised I?d become a problem, I decided to end my contract,? he said of his former team.
?If another team helps me race again I?ll always be thankful because this is probably the worst moment in my career. I consider myself a good professional. I haven?t raced for a full season in the last three years so I?m not past my best. I think I?m still a winner despite everything that has happened.?