British cyclist Chris Froome tested positive for high levels of a substance used in asthma medication during the final week of the 2017 Vuelta race in Spain. The drug, commercialized as Salbutamol, is not prohibited but may only be used up to a certain limit.
In a statement, Team Sky said that a urine test conducted on September 7, following Stage 18 of the Vuelta, “revealed a concentration of Salbutamol which exceeds a threshold that requires him to provide information to confirm that he inhaled no more than the permissible dose. Analysis indicated the presence of Salbutamol at a concentration of 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml), compared with the WADA threshold of 1,000ng/ml.”
My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage
His team says that Froome – who won the Vuelta – has had asthma since childhood and has been using the medication since then “to prevent and ease symptoms brought on by exercise.”
In a statement of its own, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) said that “as a matter of principle, and whilst not required by the World Anti-Doping Code, the UCI systematically reports potential anti-doping rule violations via its website when a mandatory provisional suspension applies.”
In the Team Sky release, Froome himself states that “it is well known that I have asthma and I know exactly what the rules are. I use an inhaler to manage my symptoms (always within the permissible limits) and I know for sure that I will be tested every day I wear the race leader’s jersey.”
“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,” said the four-time Tour de France winner.
English version by Susana Urra.