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No pepper spray found in Puerto Rico pageant case
December 1, 2007 / 11:47 PM / 10 years ago

No pepper spray found in Puerto Rico pageant case

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - Police probing allegations that someone put pepper spray on a Puerto Rican beauty contestant’s clothing said Saturday they would investigate whether anyone lied to them after tests found no traces of the substance on the woman’s belongings.

<p>Miss Puerto Rico Universe 2007 beauty pageant winner Ingrid Marie Rivera, from Dorado, reacts with tears during the post-contest news conference at the Center of Performing Arts in San Juan in this November 23, 2007 file photo. Police probing allegations that someone put pepper spray on Rivera's clothing said Saturday they would investigate whether anyone lied to them after tests found no traces of the substance on the woman's belongings. REUTERS/Stringer/Files</p>

Miss Puerto Rico Universe Ingrid Marie Rivera and pageant organizers claimed that someone had laced her makeup and doused her clothing with a chemical they believed to be pepper spray during the November 23 contest in an attempt to knock her out of the running.

The 24-year-old from the town of Dorado said she broke out in hives and swelling during the pageant and was forced to ice down her face and body backstage during the event.

On Friday, the Caribbean island’s Forensic Sciences Institute said the brush and gown, delivered to police four days after the pageant, contained no traces of capsicum, pepper spray’s active ingredient. They did not test for other chemicals.

“I guess she has a lot of explaining to do,” police spokesman Stephen Alvarez said on Saturday.

Saying that he did not want his department used for purposes of publicity, Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo said he would investigate whether anyone provided false information to his detectives, which would be a felony.

The police complaint was filed by the pageant’s security director, Alvarez said. Rivera has not given any statements to police investigators.

Magali Febles, the director of the beauty pageant, insisted that the sabotage took place and said she would ask authorities to test for other substances.

Organizers also said Rivera’s bags, containing clothing and credit cards, were stolen during the event, and that a bomb threat was called in the day before the final competition, forcing the cancellation of some events.

Beauty competitions are popular in Puerto Rico, which has won the Miss Universe pageant five times.

The ability to field a Miss Universe competitor from Puerto Rico, as well as Olympic sports teams, weigh heavily in the island’s political debate about its status as a U.S. commonwealth, which has some aspects of a state and some of an independent country.

Reporting by John Marino, editing by Jim Loney

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