Simon Yates’s positive test for a banned substance may impact on his career trajectory and chances of ever racing with British ‘home’ team Sky.
Yates and his brother, Adam, turned professional with Australian outfit Orica-GreenEdge in 2014 and, tipped to lead its burgeoning Grand Tour title ambitions, are likely to renew respective contracts this season.
However, there has long been sentiment, right or wrong, that the duo may inevitably end up at Sky, the stable that has won three Tours de France.
It was revealed via a Daily Mail report overnight that Yates tested positive for terbutaline at an in-competition test at Paris-Nice last month and did not have the necessary Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for the asthma treatment.
The UCI said in a statement today that Yates will not be provisionally suspended for the failed test taken on March 12. However, if sanctioned, the 23-year-old would not be able to meet the strict zero-tolerance policy on banned substances Sky well advertises and thus would be ineligible to join the team at any point while it observes the internal rule.
“It’s quite clear, Team Sky’s stance on our whole zero tolerance,” Sky Head of Performance Operations and Great Britain national team coach Rod Ellingworth said.
Orica-GreenEdge was notified of Yates’s adverse analytical finding on April 22. In a responsive statement overnight it announced that the finding was the fault of a team doctor who “made an administrative error by failing to apply for the TUE required for the use of this treatment”.
“I don’t know anything about the situation, I’ve only read what most people have read,” Ellingworth said. “I think if it is an error from the team, from an administration point of view, that’s a huge lesson to learn. Let’s hope Simon doesn’t become the huge victim of that mistake.”
Orica-GreenEdge has high hopes for Yates, who together with Adam and Colombian Esteban Chaves, will be given significant opportunities at all three Grand Tours moving forward. The Yates brothers are again both set to compete at the Tour de France this season.
“We see them as the bright future for where we are heading,” Orica-GreenEdge team owner Gerry Ryan said from the Tour de Yorkshire today. “Both Simon and Adam, they’re characters of the team and settled in and I think if you ask them they’ll say they really enjoy the [team] culture.
“I’ve acknowledged their contract is up for a renewal and I’m sure it’s a priority for [general manager] Shayne [Bannan] to re-sign them.
“That’s what we are here for, we are here to hopefully one day get that yellow jersey.”
Yates also has ambitions at the Rio Olympic Games road race, which quickly proceeds the Tour this season, selections for which will be made at the end of June.
“My job is to put the best team on the line and recommend the best team on the line,” Ellingworth said. “Hopefully Simon will be in that pool of people. But time will tell.”
Orica-GreenEdge has said it is now going through the due process with relevant authorities in regards to the finding.