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Chris Froome returns adverse drug test for salbutamol

Joe Robinson
13 Dec 2017

UCI confirm sample taken at the Vuelta a Espana contained twice the permitted level of asthma drug

Chris Froome returned an adverse drug sample of salbutamol at this year’s Vuelta a Espana, the UCI has confirmed in a statement.

Cycling's governing body confirmed that Froome ‘was notified of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) of salbutamol in excess of 1000ng/ml (*) in a sample collected during the Vuelta a España on 7 September 2017’.

The Tour de France champion's urine sample was found to contain 2000 nanograms per millilitre of salbutamol, twice the legal limit.

It then revealed that the Vuelta champion was informed of the findings on 20th September and that subsequent analysis of his B sample had returned the same results.

The sample was collected on 7th September 2017, the day after Froome lost time to his rivals on Stage 17 of the Vuelta, which finished on the steep Los Machucos.

Froome then regained time on the following day, Stage 18 to Santo Toribio de Liebana, the same day as the returned adverse findings.

In a statement of their own released shortly before that of the UCI, Team Sky defended their rider citing that not only is salbutamol permitted under WADA laws when taken in legal dosage but that Froome passed drug tests on all other days of the race.

Froome responds

Froome himself also responded to the findings, explaining that he saw a deterioration of his asthma condition throughout the Vuelta and that he plans to fully cooperate with the UCI.

‘My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I 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,’

‘I take my leadership position in my sport very seriously. The UCI is absolutely right to examine test results and, together with the team, I will provide whatever information it requires.’

Team Sky team director Dave Brailsford also commented on the situation in defence of Froome.

‘I have the utmost confidence that Chris followed the medical guidance in managing his asthma symptoms, staying within the permissible dose for salbutamol. Of course, we will do whatever we can to help address these questions.’

If Froome’s adverse findings are upheld, the four time Tour champion could experience a backdated ban which would likely see him stripped of his Vuelta title and bronze medals from this year's World Championships.

Previous sanctions for the excessive use of Salbutamol have seen no previous standard outcome. 

Fellow pro Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) failed a drug test for Salbutamol at the 2014 Giro d'Italia, returning showing 1,900 ng/ml in his system, less than that of Froome. The Italian was handed a nine-month ban.

Ulissi was allowed to keep his two stage victories from the Giro but was stripped of results after Stage 11, in which the doping violation took place.

Compatriot of Ulissi, Alessandro Pettachi also served a year ban for Salbutamol in 2017 after returning 1320ng/ml. Pettachi was initially cleared by the Italian Cycling Federation before the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the decision, handing the sprinter a one year ban.

Previously, other riders such as five-time Tour winner Miguel Indurain have been found to have this substance in their system yet faced no ban.

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