Chris Froome denies breaking rules after drug test questions

Lynette Rowe
December 17, 2017

"This is not a positive test", Froome said in an interview aired by British broadcasters on Wednesday. If he is not successful, he could forfeit his Vuelta title.

For some substances an adverse analytical finding automatically triggers a provisional ban from cycling's governing body, the UCI, but that is not the case with salbutamol. If a urine sample returns a level of more than 1,000 nanograms per millimetre, it will be deemed a potential anti-doping violation unless the cyclist can confirm that they did not take more than the regulated dosage in the specified timescale. A study published past year showed that inhaled Beta2-Agonist drugs, such as salbutamol, increased power output in men cyclists and "may postpone fatigue" in skeletal muscles.

Sky said Froome had to take an increased dosage of salbutamol without exceeding the permissible dose after he "experienced acute asthma symptoms" during the final week of the Vuelta.

There are several precedents, though, for what might happen next, as Italian rider Alessandro Petacchi was eventually given a one-year ban for taking too many puffs at the 2007 Giro.

Chris Froome, pictured here leading the way at Vuelta, could face a race suspension.

Then there was the infamous scandal over a "jiffy bag" that was allegedly sent to the Team Sky bus at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011. Britain's anti-doping agency last month closed an investigation into the team without bringing charges.

"As always, I took the greatest care to ensure that I did not use more than the permissible dose", he said, in a statement quoted by the Guardian.

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The Kenya-born rider was quickly backed by Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford.

"I take my leadership position in my sport very seriously". He was also stripped of the five stages he won - his Salbutamol concentration was 1,320 ng/mL.

He became the first Briton to win the three-week race around Spain and it followed his Tour de France victory in July. "The absolutely right to examine test results and, together with the team, I will provide whatever information it requires".

It is understood that Froome and Team Sky will challenge the result of the test.

However, Italian Leonardo Piepoli avoided any ban when reportedly returning levels of salbutamol similar to those by Froome, having successfully explained the reasons for the abnormal test.

Froome insisted his asthma symptoms were particularly troublesome during the event and denied claims of hypocrisy having previously spoken out against the use of TUEs (therapeutic use exemptions) to help cyclists manage the impact of medical conditions prior to key races.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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