The International Cycling Union (UCI) has today (Monday) closed a case against leading rider Chris Froome which had arisen last year following the disclosure of a positive test for excessive levels of the asthma drug salbutamol.
On September 20, the British rider was notified that a sample collected during his victory in the 2017 Vuelta a España on September 7 was reported to contain a concentration of salbutamol in excess of 1000ng/ml.
The apparent failed test was revealed in December as part of a joint investigation by UK and French newspapers, The Guardian and Le Monde. The news caused a furore in the cycling world and at the time, Froome (pictured) said that he asked his team doctor for advice to increase his inhaler use after his asthma symptoms worsened during the Vuelta, while adding that the UCI was “absolutely right” to ask further questions.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) Prohibited List provides that inhaled salbutamol is permitted subject to a maximum dose of 1,600 micrograms over 24 hours, not to exceed 800 micrograms every 12 hours (the permitted use), and that a concentration in excess of 1,000 ng/ml is an abnormal finding which is presumed not to be the result of a permitted use.
The Wada Prohibited List further provides that the athlete can establish that his/her abnormal result was the consequence of a permitted use, in which case it will not be considered as an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF).
In a statement today, the UCI said: “The UCI has considered all the relevant evidence in detail (in consultation with its own experts and experts from Wada). On 28 June 2018, Wada informed the UCI that it would accept, based on the specific facts of the case, that Mr Froome’s sample results do not constitute an AAF. In light of Wada's unparalleled access to information and authorship of the salbutamol regime, the UCI has decided, based on Wada's position, to close the proceedings against Mr Froome.”
Cycling’s global governing body added: “The UCI understands that there will be significant discussion of this decision, but wishes to reassure all those involved in or interested in cycling that its decision is based on expert opinions, Wada’s advice, and a full assessment of the facts of the case.”
The UCI’s announcement comes after French media yesterday (Sunday) reported that Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) was seeking to block Froome’s participation in the grand tour event he has won on four occasions. The 33-year-old, who rides for Team Sky, is now free to compete in this year’s race, which commences on Saturday.
After the UCI’s statement, Froome said: “I am very pleased that the UCI has exonerated me. While this decision is obviously a big deal for me and the team, it’s also an important moment for cycling. I understand the history of this great sport – good and bad. I have always taken my leadership position very seriously and I always do things the right way. I meant it when I said that I would never dishonour a winner’s jersey and that my results would stand the test of time.
“I have never doubted that this case would be dismissed for the simple reason that I have known throughout I did nothing wrong. I have suffered with asthma since childhood. I know exactly what the rules are regarding my asthma medication and I only ever use my puffer to manage my symptoms within the permissible limits.
“Of course, the UCI had to examine these test results from the Vuelta. Unfortunately, the details of the case did not remain confidential, as they should have done. And I appreciate more than anyone else the frustration at how long the case has taken to resolve and the uncertainty this has caused. I am glad it’s finally over.”