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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, December 14, 2017

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

If the law is on your side, pound on the law. If the facts on are your side, pound on the facts. If neither are on your side, pound on the table. - Carl Sandburg

Latest completed racing:

Team Sky's & the UCI's statements on Chris Froome's failed Vuelta drug test

Yesterday we reported that four-time Tour de France winner Froome was found to have double the allowed level of the legal asthma drug Salbutamol in his urine on a test taken on September 7 during the Vuelta a España, which the 32-year-old went on to win.

Here's is the statement in full from Team Sky, responding to the drug postive:

Press Release

Chris Froome responds to UCI enquiries about asthma medication

Chris Froome has responded to a request for information from the UCI, the world governing body for cycling, about his use of medication for asthma during the 2017 Vuelta a España.

This is a process that in normal circumstances would be confidential. However, in light of media interest, we believe it is important that the facts are set out clearly for all.

Chris has had asthma since childhood and uses an inhaler to take a common medication, Salbutamol, to prevent and ease symptoms brought on by exercise. Salbutamol is permitted by WADA rules (without the need for a TUE) when inhaled up to a limit of 1,600 micrograms (mcg) over a period of 24 hours and no more than 800mcg over 12 hours.

The UCI informed Chris that a urine test conducted on 7 September 2017, following Stage 18 of the Vuelta, revealed a concentration of Salbutamol which exceeds a threshold that requires him to provide information to confirm that he inhaled no more than the permissible dose. Analysis indicated the presence of Salbutamol at a concentration of 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml), compared with the WADA threshold of 1,000ng/ml. None of the 20 other urine tests taken by Chris required any further explanation.

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 7 September 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.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome at the end of the Vuelta

The notification of the test finding does not mean that any rule has been broken. The finding triggers requests from the UCI which are aimed at establishing what caused the elevated concentration of Salbutamol and to ensure that no more than the permissible doses of Salbutamol were inhaled.

There is considerable evidence to show that there are significant and unpredictable variations in the way Salbutamol is metabolised and excreted. As a result, the use of permissible dosages of Salbutamol can sometimes result in elevated urinary concentrations, which require explanation. A wide range of factors can affect the concentrations, including the interaction of Salbutamol with food or other medications, dehydration and the timing of Salbutamol usage before the test.

Chris Froome said:

“It is well known that I have asthma and I know exactly what the rules are. I use an inhaler to manage my symptoms (always within the permissible limits) and I know for sure that I will be tested every day I wear the race leader’s jersey.

“My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage. As always, I took the greatest care to ensure that I did not use more than the permissible dose.

“I take my leadership position in my sport very seriously. The UCI is absolutely right to examine test results and, together with the team, I will provide whatever information it requires.”

Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said:

“There are complex medical and physiological issues which affect the metabolism and excretion of Salbutamol. We’re committed to establishing the facts and understanding exactly what happened on this occasion.

“I have the utmost confidence that Chris followed the medical guidance in managing his asthma symptoms, staying within the permissible dose for Salbutamol. Of course, we will do whatever we can to help address these questions.”

Here is the UCI's statement in full on Chris Froome:

UCI statement on Christopher Froome

13 December 2017

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that British rider Christopher Froome was notified of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) of Salbutamol in excess of 1000ng/ml (*) in a sample collected during the Vuelta a España on 7 September 2017. The rider was notified of the AAF on 20 September 2017.

The anti-doping control was planned and carried out by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), the independent body mandated by the UCI, in charge of defining and implementing the anti-doping strategy in cycling.

The analysis of the B sample has confirmed the results of the rider’s A sample and the proceedings are being conducted in line with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules.

As a matter of principle, and whilst not required by the World Anti-Doping Code, the UCI systematically reports potential anti-doping rule violations via its website when a mandatory provisional suspension applies. Pursuant to Article 7.9.1. of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the presence of a Specified Substance such as Salbutamol in a sample does not result in the imposition of such mandatory provisional suspension against the rider.

At this stage of the procedure, the UCI will not comment any further on this matter.

(*) WADA’s Prohibited List provides that: “The presence in urine of salbutamol in excess of 1000 ng/mL or formoterol in excess of 40 ng/mL is presumed not to be an intended therapeutic use of the substance and will be considered as an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) unless the Athlete proves, through a controlled pharmacokinetic study, that the abnormal result was the consequence of the use of the therapeutic dose (by inhalation) up to the maximum dose indicated above.”

Caleb Ewan to make Tour de France debut in 2018

Ewan's team sent me this update:

After winning stages in both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana, Australian sprint sensation Caleb Ewan will get the chance to complete the set in 2018, with ORICA-SCOTT, to be known as Mitchelton-SCOTT next season, confirming he is to make his first appearance at the biggest race of them all, the Tour de France.

Another successful season saw 23-year-old Ewan achieve 12 race victories for ORICA-SCOTT in 2017, including the Australian criterium title and a stage win on his second appearance at the Giro d’Italia with the natural progression now leading towards the ‘Grand Boucle’ in July.

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan shows how it's done at the 2017 Bay Classic

“If there’s any race that you want to do when you’re growing up as an aspiring young cyclist it would be the Tour de France,” said Ewan. “I’ve been itching to get there ever since I turned professional. I think that next year I will be definitely be ready for it. It will be the fourth Grand Tour that I have started and after getting stage wins at both the Giro and the Vuelta the aim is to keep that going into the Tour and try to get a stage win there.

“Obviously the Tour is a unique event and I am looking at it as another step up, but I feel that I am ready for it and with the success we have been having within the sprint train we have speed and versatility for different types of finishes."

Traditionally in cycling there is no bigger stage than the Tour de France and competition for Tour glory is fierce. Head sport director Matt White spoke of the importance of the development process undertaken to arrive at this level.

“We know that Caleb is ready for the Tour,” said White. “It is going to be a learning experience and we will be supporting him 100%. He has won at the Giro and the Vuelta and the natural progression is that now he gets a crack at the Tour de France.”

“It has been a very deliberate process with Caleb regarding getting to the Tour, he has been hungry for it the last couple of seasons and it has been a three year development to get him to this level where we feel he is ready for it.

“Caleb is 23 years old now, he has the experience of competing and winning in a Grand Tour and also the confidence that comes from winning WorldTour races with some consistency and his program for 2018 will be one that leads up to the Tour in July.

“As far as the route is concerned there are six potential sprint finishes within the first nine stages and that’s six different opportunities for Caleb to go for the stage win. It’s the Tour de France and there will be immense competition for every stage, but Caleb is ready for that and with the additions we have made to our sprint train over the last couple of seasons we have the speed and the strength in depth to get him in a position to fight for the win.”

The Tour de France will run from the 7th-29th of July 2018 and cover 3,329 kilometres over 21-stages.

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