UKAD stats reveal how difficult it could be for Chris Froome to avoid ban in salbutamol case

Every salbutamol AAF recorded in the last three years has resulted in a doping violation

An amateur racer has been banned for doping
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

As Chris Froome prepares for his next racing appearance of the season at Tirreno-Adriatico (March 7-13), a Freedom of Information request made by the Press Association to UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has underlined the difficulties the British rider faces in defending himself against a doping charge resulting from the elevated level of salbutamol recorded following a stage of last year’s Vuelta a España.

According to PA’s FOI request, UKAD dealt with 109 adverse analytical findings (AAFs) between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2017, of which 77 – a little more than 70 per cent – resulted in an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV).

More pertinently, the FOI request revealed that although only three of these AAFs were for salbutamol, all three of these cases resulted in an ADRV.

>>> Everything you need to know about Chris Froome's salbutamol case

UKAD’s stats for the number of AAFs that result in an ADRV are very much in line with those for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Its last report for 2015, which was published in April 2017 and is the latest available, reveals that during that year there were 244 AAFs in cycling, of which 144 ultimately resulted in an ADRV.

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WADA’s report breaks down the 100 AAFs that didn’t result in an ADRV into four categories: 46 were cleared for medical reasons, 21 had no case to answer, 11 received no sanction, while 22 were pending and will, presumably, be detailed in WADA’s 2016 report, which is due for publication next month.

Froome has denied breaking anti-doping rules which allow athletes to take a maximum of 800mg of salbutamol per 12 hours, and, with Team Sky's backing, has vowed to clear his name.

>>> Team Sky reveal line-up for Paris-Nice: Sergio Henao and Wout Poels joint leaders

Contacted by PA, the UCI said it had “no update” on Froome’s case. The Team Sky leader has been confirmed by Tirreno organisers RCS as one of the star attractions for “the race of the two seas”, which will also feature Tom Dumoulin, Romain Bardet, Vincenzo Nibali, Richie Porte and Mikel Landa among its GC big hitters.

Following Tirreno, Froome’s is set to race the Tour of the Alps in mid-April before targeting the Giro d’Italia title in May.

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Peter Cossins has been writing about professional cycling since 1993, with his reporting appearing in numerous publications and websites including Cycling WeeklyCycle Sport and Procycling - which he edited from 2006 to 2009. Peter is the author of several books on cycling - The Monuments, his history of cycling's five greatest one-day Classic races, was published in 2014, followed in 2015 by Alpe d’Huez, an appraisal of cycling’s greatest climb. Yellow Jersey - his celebration of the iconic Tour de France winner's jersey won the 2020 Telegraph Sports Book Awards Cycling Book of the Year Award.