Team Sky have today welcomed the decision by the UCI to dismiss the case against Chris Froome.
Chris Froome said:
“I am very pleased that the UCI has exonerated me. 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 dishonour 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
“Of course, the UCI had to examine these test results from the Vuelta. 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.”
Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said:
“We have always had total confidence in Chris and his integrity. We knew that he had followed the right medical guidance in managing his asthma at the Vuelta and were sure that he would be exonerated in the end, which he has been. This is why we decided that it was right for Chris to continue racing, in line with UCI rules, while the process was ongoing. We are pleased that it has now been resolved.
“Chris’s elevated Salbutamol urine reading from Stage 18 of the Vuelta was treated as a ‘presumed’ Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) by the UCI and WADA, which triggered a requirement for us to provide further information. After a comprehensive review of that information, relevant data and scientific research, the UCI and WADA have concluded that there was, in fact, no AAF and that no rule has been broken.
“We said at the outset that there are complex medical and physiological issues which affect the metabolism and excretion of Salbutamol. 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.
“Chris has proved he is a great champion – not only on the bike but also by how he has conducted himself during this period. It has not been easy, but his professionalism, integrity and good grace under pressure have been exemplary and a credit to the sport.
“The greatest bike race in the world starts in five days. We can’t wait to get racing again and help Chris win it for a record-equalling fifth time.”
Notes to Editors
Chris Froome has had asthma since childhood and uses an inhaler to take a common medication, Salbutamol, to prevent and ease symptoms brought on by exercise.
Chris Froome won the 2017 Vuelta a España on September 10th 2017. During the final week of the Vuelta, Chris experienced acute asthma symptoms. On the advice of the Team Sky doctor, he used an increased dosage of Salbutamol – still within the permissible doses – in the run-up to the September 7th urine test. As race leader, Chris was tested after every stage through this period and he declared his use of the medication as part of the process.
On September 20th 2017, Chris Froome received an email from the UCI notifying him of a “presumed” Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for Salbutamol. The UCI informed Chris that a urine test conducted on September 7th 2017, following Stage 18 of the Vuelta a España, revealed a urine concentration of Salbutamol which exceeded a specific decision limit. This required him to provide further information. None of the 20 other urine tests taken by Chris during that race required any further explanation.
Salbutamol is a drug used to treat and alleviate the symptoms of asthma and is part of a group of drugs known as Beta-2 agonists. The drug opens the airways in the lungs to help breathing. It is usually administered via an oral inhaler.
An AAF is “presumed” when an anti-doping authority identifies a potential breach in anti-doping rules, in this case a specified threshold substance exceeding a specified limit by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF). CADF are responsible for doping control for the UCI.
Notification of a “presumed” AAF is not a positive test. The finding merely triggered information requests from the UCI to establish what caused the elevated concentration of Salbutamol. Chris’s reading was 19% over the decision limit once corrected for specific gravity (to take account of dehydration). It was not ‘twice the limit’ as has been incorrectly reported.
Despite the normal confidential process of cases like this, the information was leaked and on Wednesday 13th December 2017, both the UCI and Team Sky issued statements confirming that Chris Froome had returned a “presumed” AAF.
After a comprehensive review and detailed analysis of all the relevant data and scientific research the UCI and WADA now accept that the presumption of an AAF was incorrect and that no rule has been broken.
Chris Froome and Team Sky co-operated with the UCI and WADA throughout the process, which resulted in him being cleared on July 2nd 2018.