LE TEIL, France (VN) — Chris Froome (Sky) hit back Tuesday after Twitter erupted overnight with messages indicating that the Tour de France champion might be using an asthma inhaler without a therapeutic use exemption, or TUE.
“It’s completely allowed, you don’t need a TUE for it,” Froome said. “It’s a bit of a surprise everyone is talking about it now.”
Overnight on Twitter, users posted messages and images of Froome puffing on an inhaler during Monday’s second stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné. TV cameras filmed him putting an inhaler in his mouth with 19 kilometers to race, shortly before the start of the Col du Béal climb. He dueled with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) on the climb, won the fight, and maintained his yellow jersey.
Froome’s girlfriend, Michelle Cound, responded to some messages on Twitter and explained that he has used it since he was a boy.
“No TUE required,” she wrote. “He has asthma, hence the coughing after exertion #duh #trolls.”
Sky confirmed that he has been using the inhaler since he was a teenager and that sometimes in races he administers Salbutamol.
According to UCI rules, a rider may use up to 1600mg of Salbutamol a day without a TUE. It warns, however, “please pay attention to the substance.” Only 54mg of Formoterol may be taken a day without a TUE. Terbutaline and other medications require a TUE no matter how much one uses.
“I do have exercise-induced asthma,” Froome said. “I don’t use [the inhaler] every time I race. Normally, only when I have a big effort coming up.
“It’s completely allowed by the UCI and I have done all my tests for my asthmatic problems. A lot of people see the interviews, I’m coughing afterwards.”
Froome coughed in the post-race interviews after his effort Monday. He accelerated several times to drop his rivals and weaken Contador. The summit finish was 1,391 meters (4,563 feet) above sea level.
With five days to race, Froome sits on top of the overall lead by 12 seconds on Contador, 0:21 on Wilco Kelderman (Belkin), and 0:33 on Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp).
Froome won the Critérium du Dauphiné last year en route to the Tour de France title. Perhaps it was not a surprise that he attacked and won Monday, but to many on Twitter, his inhaler use was.
“Given sports history, people are obviously looking for a reason,” he said. “There’s no reason to make a big deal out of it. I’m surprised I wasn’t asked about it until now.”
Some asthma spray cases have resulted in bans. Alessandro Petacchi served a ban after testers found excess levels of Salbutamol in his body. He said that he accidentally took too many sprays in the day. Igor González de Galdeano and Matteo Trentin also served suspensions.