Nairo Quintana withdraws from Vuelta a España: 'I will assert my reasons before the Court of Arbitration for Sport'

The UCI announced the Colombian had tested positive for tramadol twice at the Tour de France, and has been retroactively disqualified

Nairo Quintana
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nairo Quintana (Arkéa–Samsic) has announced he won't start the Vuelta a España tomorrow, instead opting to focus on defending himself at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The UCI retroactively disqualified him from the Tour de France yesterday (Wednesday), after cycling's governing body announced two dried blood samples provided by the Colombian on July 8 and 13 revealed the presence of banned painkiller tramadol. 

The UCI clarified that because this is Quintana's first offence, though, he can still compete at the Vuelta and other upcoming races. However, the Colombian has decided to focus his efforts on defending himself at CAS, consequently withdrawing from the Grand Tour on the eve of the first stage in Utrecht.

"I announce that I will not participate in the Vuelta a España to assert my reasons before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)," Quintana stated. "I will return to the race calendar at the end of the season."

While the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) doesn't include tramadol on its banned substance list, the UCI banned the substance in March 2019 due to the adverse side-effects the drug can cause.  

Yesterday, the 32-year-old strongly denied using tramadol, which is a strong painkiller. 

“Today I realised by surprise the news from the UCI of an infraction for the use of tramadol,” Quintana said. “I am totally unaware of the use of this substance, and I deny ever using it during my career.

“With my legal team we will exhaust every means to prepare my defence."

Already in the Netherlands preparing for the first three stages of the Vuelta, Quintana also added he would start the race despite the UCI's ruling. Ultimately, he has reversed that decision. 

“I also want to confirm that I will be at the Vuelta a España, mounted on my bike to give the maximum for my team, my country, and my followers."

Arkéa-Samsic also acknowledged the UCI's ruling, but refused to comment further than a short, issued statement (opens in new tab).

"Arkéa-Samsic has taken note of the notification from the UCI received by Nairo Quintana informing him of the presence of Tramadol in two dried blood samples collected during the last Tour de France," the statement read. 

"The UCI Medical Regulations provide for a ban on the use of Tramadol in competition for medical reasons from 1 March 2019.

"Furthermore, this breach of the UCI Medical Regulations does not result in a suspension for the rider.

"The Arkéa-Samsic team will make no further comment."

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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.