Cervélo's Florencio admits error in self-treatment against hemorrhoids
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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cervélo's Florencio admits error in self-treatment against hemorrhoids

by Bjorn Haake at 1:18 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
Rider's mistake costs him Tour de France participation

The Cervélo TestTeam will have to start the Tour de France with only eight riders, after it send home Xavier Florencio a day before the start of La Grande Boucle. For Florencio, it is one of the most bitter moments in his sporting life. A simple treatment against hemorrhoids that was supposed to help against the physical pain has shifted into one of his most painful psychological moments since turning professional in 2001 with ONCE.

It was a common cyclist's problem that led Florencio into self-treatment. "After the Tour de Suisse, when I was training in Andorra for the Tour, I developed hemorrhoids that became more and more painful," the Spaniard said. He went to the pharmacy. "They gave me Hemoal, which is what everyone uses in this case." Hemoal is indeed one of the most common creams against such kinds of problems in Spain.

"I looked at the flyer and I did not see any indication for cyclists not to use it," Florencio said. But here he erred and put on the cream frequently until Friday morning. "In the afternoon I told my medical team about the problem and how I treated it." He was quickly informed by the team's doctor that Hemoal contains ephedrine, a substance that is also in common products like cough sirup and has been on the anti-doping lists for a long time.

"He informed the UCI [International Cycling Union], because the substance stays in the system for two or three days and there was a danger of returning a positive result in case of an anti-doping test. Logically, the next step was to remove me from the team."

Florencio recognizes his mistake and was sad that he hurt the team. "I should have contacted the medical team before my self-treatment, but I never thought that this product, which is in such wide-spread use and that you can get without prescription, would have such contraindication." The case highlights the problem for professional athletes, where even ordering simple food supplements from the internet can have dire consequences.

The winner of the 2006 Clásica San Sebastián was inconsolable. "It was a regrettable error and I feel really bad, because I worked so hard to come to this race in the best condition."


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