Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Chris Froome has responded to a request for information from the UCI, the world governing body for cycling, about his use of medication for asthma during the 2017 Vuelta a España. This is a process that in normal circumstances would be confidential. However, in light of media interest, we believe it is important that the facts are set out clearly for all.
Chris has had asthma since childhood and uses an inhaler to take a common medication, Salbutamol, to prevent and ease symptoms brought on by exercise. Salbutamol is permitted by WADA rules (without the need for a TUE) when inhaled up to a limit of 1,600 micrograms (mcg) over a period of 24 hours and no more than 800mcg over 12 hours.
The UCI informed Chris that a urine test conducted on 7 September 2017, following Stage 18 of the Vuelta, revealed a concentration of Salbutamol which exceeds a threshold that requires him to provide information to confirm that he inhaled no more than the permissible dose. Analysis indicated the presence of Salbutamol at a concentration of 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml), compared with the WADA threshold of 1,000ng/ml. None of the 20 other urine tests taken by Chris required any further explanation.
During the final week of the Vuelta, Chris experienced acute asthma symptoms. On the advice of the Team Sky doctor, he used an increased dosage of Salbutamol (still within the permissible doses) in the run-up to the 7 September urine test. As race leader, Chris was tested after every stage through this period and he declared his use of the medication as part of the process.
The notification of the test finding does not mean that any rule has been broken. The finding triggers requests from the UCI which are aimed at establishing what caused the elevated concentration of Salbutamol and to ensure that no more than the permissible doses of Salbutamol were inhaled.
There is considerable evidence to show that there are significant and unpredictable variations in the way Salbutamol is metabolised and excreted. As a result, the use of permissible dosages of Salbutamol can sometimes result in elevated urinary concentrations, which require explanation. A wide range of factors can affect the concentrations, including the interaction of Salbutamol with food or other medications, dehydration and the timing of Salbutamol usage before the test.
Chris Froome said: “It is well known that I have asthma and I know exactly what the rules are. 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.”
Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “There are complex medical and physiological issues which affect the metabolism and excretion of Salbutamol. We’re committed to establishing the facts and understanding exactly what happened on this occasion.
“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.”
• This media release was originally published by Team Sky on 13 December 2017. To access the original, please click here.
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