September 12/04 1:06 am - Hermida Press Conference
Posted by Editoress on 09/12/04
Jose Antonio Hermida held a press conference yesterday evening, after being declared "unfit" to race due to a high hematocrit level, and passionately declared himself a victim of a rigid and unrealistic testing process. Breaking down in tears more than once, the Olympic silver medalist said that he has a naturally high hematocrit level, but that the UCI will not "give me a paper" stating this because his level fluctuates, "sometimes above 50%, sometimes below." Saturday, he was unluckily above, at 52%, after testing right on the permissible limit of 50% the day before.
"Tomorrow I cannot do the race." Hermida said. "I have been trying for several years to be in shape to win the Worlds, but it will not be this year. I heard the really bad news this morning - I did not pass the hematocrit; it was not much, but it was enough to keep me out. Now, I'm a little bit lost.
"But I want to explain my small story. In 1997 and 1998 I sent letters to the UCI for special permission. All of my family have high hematocrit. But the UCI did not accept it because my level is not always over 50, and during the season my hematocrit always goes down. They fight doping, but sometimes they fight the riders
"This year, the last two weeks have been a special time. I didn't train as much because of a knee injury (when he crashed in the Olympics), and because of all the telephone calls, the press, so my hematocrit went up.
"They say it is for my health, but I feel good, I feel strong, so I don't know why I have to stop. During, before, after the Olympics I passed so many controls ... But, in one week, everyone will know the truth from my urine test. In one week they (UCI) will call and say 'Jose, you are clean', but the bad thing, it is done. The work of a season is gone in a few hours.
"I am tranquilo, relaxed, because I did not take anything; in my head I know I am clean. On Monday I go to Lausanne to meet with the UCI doctors for testing, and maybe I get the paper, but it is too late for this (Worlds)."
Hermida and the Spanish team attempted to get a third control done this morning (Sunday), to show that his hematocrit had gone back down, but the UCI said it was not premissible. He is hoping that if the UCI accepts his paperwork (showing familial high hematocrit), then he can get permission to race in the World Cup Final next weekend in Livigno, Italy but, for now, he is out of commission for 15 days.