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Though it is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), tramadol has been prohibited in competition by the UCI since 2019.
The UCI announced that dried blood samples, taken from Quintana on July 8 and 13 had revealed the presence of the opioid pain killer.
As the substance is only banned by the UCI and not WADA, it constitutes an infringement of the UCI’s medical rules and is not considered an anti-doping violation. With that in mind, Quintana is still clear to race and will compete in the forthcoming Vuelta a España.
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Quintana can still appeal the sanction and could have his Tour de France result placed back on his palmarès if he is successful.
“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that the Colombian rider Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas has been sanctioned for an infringement of the in-competition ban on using tramadol as set out in the UCI Medical Rules with the aim of protecting the safety and health of riders in light of the side-effects of this substance,” the statement from the UCI said.
“The analyses of two dried blood samples provided by the rider on 8 and 13 July during the 2022 Tour de France revealed the presence of tramadol and its two main metabolites. In accordance with the UCI Medical Rules, the rider is disqualified from the 2022 Tour de France. This decision may be appealed before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within the next 10 days.”
It means that Quintana, if he does not successfully appeal, will lose his sixth place overall from the Tour de France and Arkéa-Samsic will lose the UCI points earned from it.
Tramadol is an opioid painkiller and it can have side effects such as nausea, drowsiness, and loss of concentration. The UCI banned it in 2019 after growing concerns about its overuse within the peloton and its potential to cause serious accidents.
It has been on WADA’s watchlist since 2012, but until now the anti-doping agency has not decided to ban it. The UCI’s restrictions only cover in-competition usage and riders are still allowed to use it when not racing.
Testing for the painkiller began in March 2019 and involves taking a small amount of blood from the fingertip of the rider. The UCI says that it conducted 120 of these tests during the Tour de France in July.