Froome cleared to ride the Tour de France as UCI close anti-doping case
Britain's Chris Froome has been cleared of any anti-doping violation by the International Cycling Union and is free to compete at the upcoming Tour de France, it was announced today
In a statement, the UCI confirmed the Team Sky rider had no case to answer following his positive test for salbutamol at last year's Vuelta a España.
The decision came despite the four-time Tour de France winner having twice the permitted 1,000 nanograms per millilitre concentration in his sample.
The UCI said the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accepted his sample results did not constitute an adverse analytical finding.
"In light of WADA’s unparalleled access to information and authorship of the salbutamol regime, the UCI has decided, based on WADA’s position, to close the proceedings against Mr Froome," the UCI statement read.
Froome will now have the chance to claim a record-equalling victory when the 2018 Tour begins on Saturday (July 7).
The Kenyan-born Briton said in a statement published by Team Sky that he "never doubted the case would be dismissed for the simple reason I have known throughout that I have done nothing wrong".
The 33-year-old also admitted his disappointment that the case had been made public and his frustration at the time it took for the case to be resolved.
"I am very pleased the UCI has exonerated me," Froome said.
"While this decision is obviously a big deal for me and the team, it is also an important moment for cycling.
"I meant it when I said I would never dishonour a winner's jersey and that my results would stand the test of time. Of course, the UCI had to examine these test results from the Vuelta. Unfortunately, the details of this case did not remain confidential, as they should have done, and I appreciate more than anyone else the frustration at how long this case has taken to resolve and the uncertainty it has caused."
"I am glad it is finally over."
Froome submitted "a significant number of expert and scientific reports" explaining the high level of salbutamol, a drug used to treat asthma, in his sample.
He also requested additional information from WADA about the salbutamol regime, according to the UCI, before he filed his explanation for the abnormal result on June 4 "together with significant expert evidence".
The UCI conceded they would have liked a swifter resolution to the case, particularly with cycling's most famous race looming on the calendar.
The uncertainty surrounding the adverse analytical finding prompted speculation that Froome would be blocked from defending his Tour de France title.
Reports emerged yesterday that race organisers the Amaury Sport Organisation had prevented him from signing on to participate at the event.
According to French newspaper Le Monde, ASO were planning to invoke a rule which "reserves the right to refuse participation in — or to exclude from — the event, a team or any of its members whose presence would be such as to damage the image or reputation of [the] ASO or the event”.
Despite the suggestions, Froome was thought to be confident the UCI verdict would go in his favour, with his wife Michelle telling Reuters he would ride the Tour.
UCI Press Release regarding Froome Anti Doping Case released
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that the anti-doping proceedings involving Mr Christopher Froome have now been closed.
On 20 September 2017, Mr Froome was notified that a sample collected during the Vuelta a España on 7 September 2017 was reported to contain a concentration of salbutamol in excess of 1000ng/ml.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List provides that inhaled salbutamol is permitted subject to a maximum dose of 1600 micrograms over 24 hours, not to exceed 800 micrograms every 12 hours (the permitted use), and that a concentration in excess of 1000 ng/ml is an abnormal finding which is presumed not to be the result of a permitted use. The WADA Prohibited List further provides that the athlete can establish that his/her abnormal result was the consequence of a permitted use, in which case it will not be considered as an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF).
The UCI instigated disciplinary proceedings in accordance with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules (ADR), during which Mr Froome exercised his right to prove that his abnormal result was the consequence of a permitted use. The proceedings started with an evidentiary phase, with the UCI and Mr Froome agreeing that the UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal would decide whether certain information could be provided to Mr Froome in preparing his defence. The UCI already sought WADA’s advice at that stage, during which a significant number of expert and scientific reports were submitted on behalf of Mr Froome.
After the evidentiary phase, Mr Froome requested additional information from WADA about the salbutamol regime. Following receipt of information from WADA, Mr Froome then filed his explanation for the abnormal result on 4 June 2018, together with significant additional expert evidence.
The UCI has considered all the relevant evidence in detail (in consultation with its own experts and experts from WADA). On 28 June 2018, WADA informed the UCI that it would accept, based on the specific facts of the case, that Mr Froome’s sample results do not constitute an AAF. In light of WADA’s unparalleled access to information and authorship of the salbutamol regime, the UCI has decided, based on WADA’s position, to close the proceedings against Mr Froome.
Whilst the UCI would have obviously preferred the proceedings to have been finalised earlier in the season, it had to ensure that Mr Froome had a fair process, as it would have done with any other rider, and that the correct decision was issued. Having received WADA’s position on 28 June 2018, the UCI prepared and issued its formal reasoned decision as quickly as possible in the circumstances.
The UCI understands that there will be significant discussion of this decision, but wishes to reassure all those involved in or interested in cycling that its decision is based on expert opinions, WADA’s advice, and a full assessment of the facts of the case. The UCI hopes that the cycling world can now turn its focus to, and enjoy, the upcoming races on the cycling calendar.