Cycling’s world body has asked Tour de France champion Chris Froome for a “please explain” after the British cyclist was found to have an excessive level of an asthma drug in his system at the Vuelta de Espana grand tour.
Froome was found to have exceeded the permitted levels of the drug salbutamol on a test taken on September 20.
The 32-year-old won the 2017 Vuelta to add to this year’s Tour de France title, making him the first cyclist to win the double since 1978.
Under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules, riders are allowed 1,000 nanograms per millilitre, but Froome — who won his fourth Tour de France title in July — registered twice the permitted level in a urine sample taken during the Vuelta.
No other samples taken from Froome during the Vuelta needed further examination. Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, said analysis of Froome’s A and B samples showed a violation of anti-doping rules.
The UCI is investigating Froome’s case under the organisation’s anti-doping rules and wants more details from Team Sky, but says Froome is not suspended.
“It is well known that I have asthma and I know exactly what the rules are,” Froome said in a written statement.
“I use an inhaler to manage my symptoms — always within the permissible limits — and I know for sure that I will be tested every day I wear the race leader’s jersey.
“My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my salbutamol dosage. As always, I took the greatest care to ensure that I did not use more than the permissible dose.
“I take my leadership position in my sport very seriously. The UCI is absolutely right to examine test results and, together with the team, I will provide whatever information it requires.”
UCI president David Lappartient said his organisation was aware of the case.
“There are rules of conduct. I’m not here to break our rules. It’s not for me to interfere with this case,” he said.
“The procedure is secret, under discussion, and I don’t have any information on it. I do not even know in what stage [of the Vuelta] the sample was taken.
“I was just informed of an irregular test [result] but I don’t know whether [the taking of salbutamol] was justified or not.”
Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said the team was committed to establishing the facts and understand exactly what happened.
“There are complex medical and physiological issues which affect the metabolism and excretion of Salbutamol,” he said in a statement.
“I have the utmost confidence that Chris followed the medical guidance in managing his asthma symptoms, staying within the permissible dose for salbutamol. Of course, we will do whatever we can to help address these questions.”