The 25-year-old Tuscan returned to competition yesterday in Italy’s Coppa Bernocchi one-day classic, finishing 22nd, after nearly three months away, but cycling’s governing body quickly stopped him. In the afternoon after the race, the UCI told Ulissi that it referred his case to Swiss Cycling to start a disciplinary hearing. Ulissi is from Livorno, but lives in Lugano, Switzerland.
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Ulissi scored his best results yet at the 2014 Giro d’Italia. He won two uphill stages, stage five to Viggiano and eight to Montecopiolo, and placed second in the Barolo time trial. He abandoned following stage 17 after taking antibiotics to fight a sore throat and temperature.
He continued to race the Tour of Slovenia, June 19 to 22, but then stopped on June 25 after team Lampre announced his positive result from the Giro d’Italia’s 11th stage to Savona. The team explained that he took two inhaler puffs with Salbutamol for asthma ahead of the Savona stage and a paracetamol from the race doctor after crashing. It added that his urine test showed 1900 nanograms per millilitre of Salbutamol, nearly double the limit of 1000ng/ml. Ulissi argued that the crashed caused a jump in values and the resulting positive test.
After nearly three months, however, Lampre decided to race Ulissi since the UCI had not yet made a move, deciding whether to shelve or to refer his case. It scheduled him for three Italian races – Coppa Bernocchi, today’s Coppa Agostoni and tomorrow’s Tre Valli Varesine – and in the process, drew a response from the UCI.
Chris Froome reminded people at June’s Critérium du Dauphiné that many riders in the peloton use inhalers to treat asthma. Prior to winning the Col du Béal stage, television cameras showed Froome puffing on an inhaler with Salbutamol.
Rules only require a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) if an athlete is using over a certain amount. You do not need an exemption for Salmeterol/Salbutamol (up to a daily dose of 1600 micrograms) and/or Formoterol (up to a daily dose of 54 micrograms). Terbutaline requires an exception.
However, similar cases have resulted in suspensions. Alessandro Petacchi served a ban after testers fond excess levels of Salbutamol, even if he said that he had accidentally took too many sprays. Igor González de Galdeano and Matteo Trentin also served bans. If Swiss Cycling rules against Ulissi, he could receive up to a two-year ban.
Double Giro stage winner's urine test was above the limit for Salbutamol.