Nairo Quintana disqualified from Tour de France after twice testing positive for tramadol

The Colombian will still race at the Vuelta a España because it is not considered a doping violation

Tour de France Nairo Quintana
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The UCI has retrospectively disqualified Nairo Quintana (Arkéa–Samsic) from the 2022 Tour de France, after two dried blood samples provided to the UCI by the Colombian revealed the presence of banned painkiller tramadol.

Consequently, Quintana, who had finished sixth on GC and achieved a second place finish on stage 11 atop the Col du Granon, has had his results from the race wiped. The UCI clarified, though, that because this is his first offence, he can still compete at the upcoming Vuelta a España and other races. 

Tramadol is a strong painkiller, available either as an injection or orally, and has been banned by the UCI since March 2019 due to side-effects the drug can cause. These include nausea, dizziness, indigestion, vertigo, vomiting, constipation and drowsiness. 

The World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) doesn't include tramadol on its banned substance list

The UCI stated (opens in new tab): “The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that the Colombian rider Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas has been sanctioned for an infringement of the in-competition ban on using tramadol as set out in the UCI Medical Rules with the aim of protecting the safety and health of riders in light of the side-effects of this substance,” the statement from the UCI said.

“The analyses of two dried blood samples provided by the rider on 8 and 13 July during the 2022 Tour de France revealed the presence of tramadol and its two main metabolites. In accordance with the UCI Medical Rules, the rider is disqualified from the 2022 Tour de France.”

Quintana has the opportunity to appeal the decision before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within the next 10 days. 

At the Tour de France, the UCI collected 120 dried blood samples as part of the tramadol programme. The drug was first banned by cycling's governing body from competition on March 1, 2019, in order to protect riders' health due to adverse effects people can suffer when using the drug

International Testing Agency (ITA) collect the samples via a small amount of blood from the rider's fingertip, before the sample analysis is conducted at the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at Geneva University. 

Following an independent review at the University of Lausanne’s Centre of Research and Expertise in Anti-Doping Sciences (REDs), the results are submitted to the UCI Medical Director, who administers sanctions based on the UCI Medical Rules. 

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Staff Writer

Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.