Pedro Delgado of Spain, still leading the Tour de France after failing a drug test, said Thursday he will stay in the race even if a second analysis confirms the presence of a banned substance.
"I will go to Paris even if the second test is positive," Delgado told The Associated Press before the tour's 19th stage began.He finished third in Thursday's stage, a 188-kilometer (117-mile) leg from Limoges to Le Puy de Dome. He ended with a spurt up the hill to move away from his main rival, Steven Rooks of the Netherlands.
Denmark's Johnny Weltz won the leg in 5 hours 14 minutes 34 seconds with West Germany's Rolf Golz second.
Delgado was third, 5:24 behind Weltz. But he increased his overall advantage over Rooks to 4:58. Rooks would inherit first place if Delgado's second test is positive. Rooks said earlier that he did not want to win by disqualification, and that if he finished first he would give the symbol of the champion, the yellow jersey, to Delgado.
Delgado's spirits were bolstered Wednesday evening by the arrival of Spanish Sports Minister Javier Gomez Navarro, who rushed to the tour's site from Madrid.
Navarro met with Delgado for about three hours at the team hotel and apparently convinced Delgado to stay on the tour. Before the visit, Delgado had said he would drop out if the second test he requested on the same urine sample confirmed the first.
The second analysis was completed Thursday at a government laboratory outside Paris, but a spokesman there said it was up to officials of the tour or Delgado's Reynolds team to announce the results.
Since Delgado gained the overall lead in the Tour last Thursday, he has been tested for drugs daily. Each day urine from the stage winner, the overall leader and some other top riders is checked.
The positive result of a test taken Friday, when Delgado won a time trial outside Grenoble, was made public Wednesday, when Delgado and his team were notified. There has been no indication of whether his tests on days since then have been positive or negative.