Chris Froome says failed medications test’ damaging’ but he followed protocol

Chris Froome has admitted that failing a drugs test at this years Vuelta a Espaa has been damaging to his reputation but has again was of the view that he did not overstep any boundaries

Chris Froome has admitted that failing a drugs exam at this year’s Vuelta a Espana has been damaging to his reputation- but again insisted he did not overstep any boundaries.

The four-times Tour de France winner also nodded in agreement when it was put to him that the world knew about his adverse analytical finding on 7 September merely because of investigative work carried out by two newspapers, the Guardian and Le Monde- suggesting that Team Sky, British Cycling and cycling’s governing body, the UCI, were planning to keep the news secret.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Froome said:” Sure, this is damaging. It has come as a huge shock to me. But at the same period, I know that within me I have fundamentally followed the protocol. I have not overstepped any borders and I hope by the end of this process that will be clear to everyone and I will be exonerated of any wrongdoing .”

Froome insisted that he had provided the UCI with data that he hoped would explain why he had double the legally permitted amount of the asthma medication salbutamol in his urine.

” We also have a wealth of information from within the team about what I eat every single day, how many times I stopped to pee during the race every day ,” he said.” We know the number of puffs of my inhaler I use to treat my asthma and at what times.

” The more detail we have been able to provide the authorities concerned is vast, and I hope we will be able to find out the real cause of their own problems ,” he added.

The former head of the UCI Brian Cookson, who is British, denied knowing of Froome’s failed exam while he was president and insisted he did not have any” role or influence” in the case. Cookson, whose four-year tenure ended on 21 September with a shock defeat to the Frenchman David Lappartient in the election, added that, under procedures he introduced, anti-doping matters were handled by the independent Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation and the Legal Anti-Doping Service.

” As UCI president I therefore had no role or influence in any individual case ,” said Cookson,” I had then, and still have today, confidence in the integrity of all those involved, that they would always follow the correct procedures in every suit, and that no rider was treated in any way differently from any other .”

Meanwhile the four-times world time trial champ Tony Martin said it is a ” scandal” that Froome competed in the world championships in Norway on 21 September- when he had found out a day earlier that has already been been an adverse analytical finding against him.

Q& A

What is salbutamol?

Salbutamol is medication used to relieve symptoms of asthma- and other lung conditions- such as coughing, wheezing and feeling breathless. It runs by relaxing the muscles of the airways into the lungs which attains it easier to inhale. It is taken commonly through an inhaler, although it can also be ingested as a tablet, capsule or syrup.

Under Wada rules, riders are let a level of 1,000 nanogram per millimetre. The presence in urine of salbutamol in excess of that is presumed not to be an aimed TUE and will be considered as an ‘adverse analytical finding’ unless the athlete demonstrates that the abnormal outcome was the consequence of the use of the therapeutic dose( by inhalation) up to the maximum dose indicated above.

Salbutamol is not something you need a TUE to take.

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Writing on his Facebook page, Martin said:” I am totally angry. There is definitely a doubled standard being applied in the Christopher Froome case. Other athletes are suspended immediately after a positive test. He and his squad are given time by the UCI to explain it all. I do not know of any similar instance in the recent past. That is a scandal, and he should at least not have been allowed to appear in the World Championships .”

That appears to be a misreading of the rules on Martin’s part, for while with some substances an analytical finding automatically triggers a provisional forbidding, that is not the case with salbutamol. This means Froome is allowed to compete until his example, which he was told about on 20 September, is resolved.

However, the German, who won a silver medal at London 2012, has furthermore questioned why it took an investigation from the Guardian and Le Monde for the narrative to come out and wanted to know whether Sky had a special status in cycling.

” Not only the public but also I have immediately the impression that there is wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes, arrangements are being made and styles are seek ways as to how to get out of this case ,” he said.” Do he and his team enjoy a special status?

” These actions are a major blow to the difficult anti-doping fight, which I am leading with riders like Marcel Kittel. We require a consequent and transparent approach by the UCI. What is going on here is inconsequent , not transparent, unprofessional and unfair .”

The Guardian understands that Froome and Team Sky have recruited a squad of medical and legal experts to seek an explanation of the findings. In particular, they are examining whether Froome was dehydrated at the time, or whether there were other physiological factors that may have led to the failed test.

One of the possibilities that will be offered to Froome is for a simulated test where he takes salbutamol and has his urine regularly assessed. However, informed sources expect the lawsuit to drag on for several more months- meaning Froome could still be under a cloud when he begins his season next spring.

However, unless Froome can provide a sufficient explanation for the abnormal finding, or challenge the result, he is likely to be stripped of his Vuelta title by the UCI and could be banned for up to 12 months.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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