Sky’s Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) request for Chris Froome in May showed that cycling’s governing body is under-staffed, according to France’s Journal du Dimanche newspaper. Froome received an exception to use a steroid due to a chest infection and won the Tour de Romandie, but the weekly pointed out errors in the process.
“The UCI does not have the committee of experts to issue the TUEs as has long been required by the World Anti-Doping Agency rules,” the newspaper reported. “It’s the sole responsibility of Dr Mario Zorzoli, UCI medical committee coordinator, to grant these authorisations that – as in Chris Froome’s case – can aid performances.”
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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code says that sport governing bodies, the UCI in cycling’s case, must have a committee of “at least three physicians” to evaluate TUE requests. The UCI said last week that the TUE was granted “in compliance” with its rules and WADA guidelines. It added, “Any rider with the same symptoms as Christopher Froome would have received a similar TUE.”
Sky’s case bothered WADA, however. The weekly said that WADA Director General David Howman “is concerned” about the UCI’s TUE process and asked it “to quickly fix the shortcomings identified in this case.”
TUEs are thorny topic as some riders could abuse them in races. Some critics asked why Sky raced Froome if he was sick enough to pull out of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and to need to take corticosteroid prednisolone orally for Romandie.
“What has happened to the team’s belief that TUEs should not be sought for riders in competition?” David Walsh wrote in the Sunday Times newspaper. “Team Sky like to portray themselves as the most ethical team in the peloton. The evidence says otherwise.”
Sky’s general manager, David Brailsford said last Sunday, “we’ve always stayed within the rules, so we’ve got nothing to hide.”
Sky's leader was filmed puffing on an asthma inhaler during stage two of the Criterium du Dauphine