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WADA official questions Gonzalez de Galdeano levels

Overall Tour de France leader Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano will not be punished for failing a drugs test. it was announced in Pau Wednesday by leading cycling administrator Daniel Baal. However, Dr Alain Garnier, who heads the Lausanne bureau of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), told the French wire service AFP that the rider's regular use of asthma medicine should not normally return as high a reading as was reported. Gonzalez de Galdeano, who has been in the yellow jersey since last Thursday, gave a reading of 1360 nanograms of Salbutamol per milliliter of urine following the sixth stage.

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By VeloNews Interactive wire services, Copyright AFP2002

Overall Tour de France leader Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano will not be punished for failing a drugs test. it was announced in Pau Wednesday by leading cycling administrator Daniel Baal.

However, Dr Alain Garnier, who heads the Lausanne bureau of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), told the French wire service AFP that the rider’s regular use of asthma medicine should not normally return as high a reading as was reported.

Gonzalez de Galdeano, who has been in the yellow jersey since last Thursday, gave a reading of 1360 nanograms of Salbutamol per milliliter of urine following the sixth stage. The drug is an adrenergic agonist, and works in a fashion similar to adrenaline. It is commonly known in the U.S. as Albuterol.

The legal limit for riders without doctor’s certificates is 1000 ng/ml. Salbutamol, which can be used to treat asthma, is also, in performance-enhancing terms, a stimulant.

Inhalers and other such products which contain substances deemed illegal are allowed by the UCI if a medical prescription can be produced. However, taking Salbutamol orally, for example in tablet form, is not allowed.

Garnier said the reported reading of 1360 by the Spanish rider suggested the use of Salbutamol other than as a medicine. “The problem with Salbutamol is that it can show up in (anti-doping) controls, but there are clear rules in sport about its use as a medicine and as a performance-enhancing drug,” Garnier told AFP. “The reading the rider gave is not compatible with the regular use of a medicine to treat asthma. A person using, for example, Ventolin on a regular basis would give a reading of between 200-600 (nanograms), and at the maximum, 800.” However, he was contradicted by Dr Leon Schattenberg, who is the UCI’s chief medical officer and a member of the body’s anti-doping commission.

He, like Baal, said the rider simply had no case to answer.

“In doping controls with salbutamol there is no limit. If the rider has no medical prescription then he should be punished, and depending on the quantity found, he should be punished as having used a stimulant.

“If it is above a 1000 (ng/ml) then it should be punished as an anabolic,” he told AFP.

“A rider can have a reading of as much as he likes – as long as he has a prescription. That’s the rule, if you look at the French legislation, there is absolutely no threshold.”

Schattenberg added that because riders can potentially use medicine after a race then be called for a dope test, it was quite possible for higher readings to be revealed.

“If a rider who has asthma finishes the race and is in need of his medicine, uses it and then goes for a doping control, it’s possible to be above 1000. “That’s why the IOC, and the French legislation, and the UCI have no limits for those who have a medical prescription.” Baal, a vice-president of cycling’s world governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), told AFP there was no question of the 28-year-old rider being penalized despite him being over the legal limit. “Galdeano has no case to answer,” Baal said. “He has a medical prescription and even if he was well over the limit he wouldn’t have been punished. It is true the product has (a performance enhancing effect) but once a medical prescription is produced then the rider in question is not subject to sanctions.”