Chris Froome, who has been the world’s most dominant cyclist in recent years, failed a drugs test in one of cycling’s most prestigious races earlier this year.
Four-time Tour de France champion Froome, who rides for Team Sky, 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 Briton went on to win.
In a statement, the sport’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), said the British rider was informed of an “Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF)” on September 20 and that an analysis of the B sample had confirmed the results of the rider’s A sample.
The 32-year-old Froome, Britain’s most successful road cyclist, who won his fourth Tour de France in July, 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.”
Under World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) rules, Salbutamol is a permitted drug without the need of a therapeutic use exemption (TUE), but only at certain doses.
The levels of the drug in Froome’s urine test were at 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) — double WADA’s 1,000 ng/ml threshold. The test was conducted following Stage 18 of the three-week Vuelta.
Froome was the first Briton to win the Spanish event and his success also made him the first cyclist since 1978 to complete the Tour de France and Vuelta double in the same year.
Froome’s team principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said in a statement: “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.”
Along with the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta is one of cycling’s Grand Tours.
More to follow.