Tour de France winner Froome faces questions over drugs test
LONDON - Reuters
Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome had twice the permissible amount of asthma medication in his system during the Vuelta race in September, cycling’s governing body UCI said on Dec. 13.
An anti-doping test that the British Team Sky rider took during the race in Spain on Sept. 7 showed twice the permitted level of the drug Salbutamol in his body.
The UCI has asked Froome to provide more information but has not suspended him.
Team Sky said the 32-year-old rider had suffered from asthma since childhood and had been affected by symptoms during the race, the Tour of Spain, which he went on to win.
But the team said he had taken no more than the allowable amount of Salbutamol.
“During the final week of the Vuelta, Chris experienced acute asthma symptoms. On the advice of the Team Sky doctor, he used an increased dosage of Salbutamol [still within the permissible doses] in the run-up to the 7 September urine test,” Team Sky said.
Sky said Froome had declared his use of the medication, adding: “The notification of the test finding does not mean that any rule has been broken.”
Froome said the UCI was “absolutely right” to scrutinize the test results.
He said that during the race he had “followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage.”
“As always, I took the greatest care to ensure that I did not use more than the permissible dose,” he said.
“Together with the team, I will provide whatever information it requires,” he added.
Salbutamol is permitted by WADA rules, without the need for a therapeutic use exemption, when inhaled up to a limit of
1,600 micrograms over a period of 24 hours and no more than 800 over 12 hours.
Sky said analysis of Froome’s sample showed the presence of Salbutamol at a concentration of 2,000 nanograms per mililiter (ng/ml), compared with the WADA threshold of 1,000ng/ml.
Froome was notified of the test on Sept. 20, the day he finished third in the world time-trial championship in Bergen, Norway.
He has not competed since then, but has announced his intention to try to win at least two of the three big tours, in France, and in Italy, in 2018.
The test will raise new questions about British cycling following the scandal surrounding the only previous British Tour de France winner, Bradley Wiggins, over his use of so-called therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs).
It emerged that Wiggins received TUEs in order to take a corticosteroid before his three biggest races in 2011, 2012 and 2013, including his 2012 Tour de France win.
Wiggins and Sky have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying the drug was prescribed to treat a longstanding pollen allergy.