Chris Froome will be free to race the Tour de France without an anti-doping investigation hanging over his head after the UCI ended its anti-doping proceedings against him.
In a statement issued on Monday, cycling’s world governing body said that the anti-doping proceedings involving Froome had been closed after the UCI concluded that the his sample collected during the 2017 Vuelta a España, which contained more than the permitted concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol, would not be considered an adverse analytical finding (AAF).
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“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List provides that inhaled salbutamol is permitted subject to a maximum dose of 1600 micrograms over 24 hours, not to exceed 800 micrograms every 12 hours (the permitted use), and that a concentration in excess of 1000 ng/ml [the level of Froome’s test] is an abnormal finding which is presumed not to be the result of a permitted use,” the statement read.
“The WADA Prohibited List further provides that the athlete can establish that his/her abnormal result was the consequence of a permitted use, in which case it will not be considered as an adverse analytical finding (AAF).”
News of the UCI’s investigation into Froome was leaked to The Guardian and Le Monde in December, prompting months of speculation over a case that would normally have remained confidential.
Various reports have speculated that Froome’s defence would be based on arguments about kidney problems and doubts about the accuracy of testing for salbutamol. However the UCI does not give an explanation as to the exact details why Froome has been cleared, saying only that Froome and his legal team had submitted “a significant number of expert and scientific reports”.
“The UCI has considered all the relevant evidence in detail (in consultation with its own experts and experts from WADA),” the statement continued.
“On 28 June 2018, WADA informed the UCI that it would accept, based on the specific facts of the case, that Mr Froome’s sample results do not constitute an AAF. In light of WADA’s unparalleled access to information and authorship of the salbutamol regime, the UCI has decided, based on WADA’s position, to close the proceedings against Mr Froome.”
The UCI has faced criticism for the amount of time that it has taken to consider the case, having first informed Froome of the test finding on September 20, 2017, meaning that Froome rode the first part of the season – including winning the Giro d’Italia – with the case against him unresolved, something that has been addressed by the UCI.
“Whilst the UCI would have obviously preferred the proceedings to have been finalised earlier in the season, it had to ensure that Mr Froome had a fair process, as it would have done with any other rider, and that the correct decision was issued. Having received WADA’s position on 28 June 2018, the UCI prepared and issued its formal reasoned decision as quickly as possible in the circumstances.
The UCI understands that there will be significant discussion of this decision, but wishes to reassure all those involved in or interested in cycling that its decision is based on expert opinions, WADA’s advice, and a full assessment of the facts of the case. The UCI hopes that the cycling world can now turn its focus to, and enjoy, the upcoming races on the cycling calendar.”
Froome is now certain to start the 2018 Tour de France, where he is going in search of a record-equalling fifth title and a historic Giro/Tour double, taking to the start line in Noirmoitier-en-l’Ile on July 7.