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Third drug test clears opposition leader

By Eter Tsotniashvili
Thursday, June 5
Levan Gachechiladze, a leading opposition politician and MP-elect, passed a mandatory drug test on his third attempt.

He is now eligible to take up his seat in parliament following last month’s elections, though Gachechiladze has vowed to boycott what he alleges is a fraudulently-elected parliament.

In a story which dominated Georgian news coverage in the past few days, Gachechiladze, who leads the eight-party coalition called the United Opposition, tested positive for opiates in two previous tests.

From the beginning he maintained this was due to a painkiller he had taken for a headache.

“There was no indication of [illegal] drug use in Levan Gachechiladze’s drug test,” supervising doctor Gela Lezhava said yesterday, adding that laboratory tests proved he had been taking a medicine with codeine.

The opposition politician sought to close the case on a minor media circus.

“I think that drug tests confirm whether or not someone is a drug user. Here it is written that I am not a drug user,” Gachechiladze told reporters.

He added that he would voluntarily take a fourth drug test to help clear his name, and expressed surprise at how much media attention the issue had attracted.

“I never thought [use of a painkiller] would cause such a big scandal,” the opposition leader said. “Georgia is a small country and everyone knows everything about me.”