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Froome cleared of doping, free to race Tour de France

By Gregor Brown • Published
Chris Froome is cleared to race the Tour de France after months of uncertainty surrounding his salbutamol case. Photo: TDW Sport | Getty Images

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Just when it appeared Chris Froome may not race the 2018 Tour de France, starting in five days in Vendée, the UCI governing body dropped the asthma drug case against him.

Team Sky’s British star tested over the allowed limit for asthma drug salbutamol after stage 18 of the Vuelta a España in September. He went on to win the race overall.

Due to the rules or specified drugs (ones allowed to a certain limit), he could race while the case was ongoing. He won the Giro d’Italia in May.

The Tour de France organizer ASO tried to stop him from racing this Saturday, using a rule to block him, saying could “damage the image or reputation” of his historic race. Now, with the UCI dropping the case, it must accept the British star and Froome is set to try to win a record-equalling fifth Tour title.

“I am very pleased that the UCI has exonerated me,” Froome said. “While this decision is obviously a big deal for me and the team, it’s also an important moment for cycling. I understand the history of this great sport – good and bad. I have always taken my leadership position very seriously and I always do things the right way. I meant it when I said that I would never dishonor a winner’s jersey and that my results would stand the test of time.

“I have never doubted that this case would be dismissed for the simple reason that I have known throughout I did nothing wrong. I have suffered with asthma since childhood. I know exactly what the rules are regarding my asthma medication and I only ever use my puffer to manage my symptoms within the permissible limits”

The decision came when cycling was in a spin, with the biggest race blocking the strongest stage racer. A decision was not expected until later this summer, possibly after the 2018 Vuelta a España.

“The UCI instigated disciplinary proceedings in accordance with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules (ADR), during which Froome exercised his right to prove that his abnormal result was the consequence of a permitted use,” the UCI said.

“After the evidentiary phase, Froome requested additional information from WADA about the salbutamol regime.

Following receipt of information from WADA, Froome then filed his explanation for the abnormal result on June 4, together with significant additional expert evidence.

“The UCI has considered all the relevant evidence in detail (in consultation with its own experts and experts from WADA). On 28 June 2018, WADA informed the UCI that it would accept, based on the specific facts of the case, that Froome’s sample results do not constitute an AAF.”

According to information leaked by The Guardian and Le Monde in December 2017, Froome tested at 2,000 nanograms per milliliter of urine. The limit for salbutamol is 1,000.

“We said at the outset that there are complex medical and physiological issues which affect the metabolism and excretion of Salbutamol,” Team Sky boss David Brailsford said.

“The same individual can exhibit significant variations in test results taken over multiple days while using exactly the same amount of Salbutamol. This means that the level of Salbutamol in a single urine sample, alone, is not a reliable indicator of the amount inhaled.

“A review of all Chris’s 21 test results from the Vuelta revealed that the Stage 18 result was within his expected range of variation and therefore consistent with him having taken a permitted dose of Salbutamol.”

“Of course, the UCI had to examine these test results from the Vuelta,” Froome added.

“Unfortunately, the details of the case did not remain confidential, as they should have done. And I appreciate more than anyone else the frustration at how long the case has taken to resolve and the uncertainty this has caused. I am glad it’s finally over.”

“I am grateful for all the support I have had from the Team and from many fans across the world. Today’s ruling draws a line. It means we can all move on and focus on the Tour de France.”

Froome will be trying to match the record of five Tour de France wins and become one of only eight who has won the Giro d’Italia and Tour in the same season.

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