Today it was reported that the four-time Tour de France winner was found to have ‘double’ the legal limit of the drug in his urine during the Tour of Spain. Sulbatomol is a drug which is allowed without a TUE, but only within certain doses.
On the September 7, 2017, Froome was found to have 2000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) in his urine. The Team Sky rider went on to win the Vuelta but was notified about his adverse finding on September 20. Testing of his B sample confirmed the results of his A sample and now Froome and Sky face yet more tough questions.
Froome has long been a suffer of asthma but this latest episode raises yet more questions
It’s well documented that Froome has been a sufferer of asthma; but this episode raises fresh concerns about Sky’s and now Froome’s practices.
In his statement which he released this morning when the news broke, Froome said: “My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage. 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,” said Froome.
After everything Sky has been through this past year with Sir Bradley Wiggins and the Sir Dave Brailsford and the whole British Cycling saga – the team didn’t need a story of this magnitude to break. If a cloud of uncertainty and suspicion was hanging over Sky before, now the levels of scrutiny will be tenfold.
After all, Froome is arguably the biggest star of the sport beside Peter Sagan – but now, whether the Briton likes it or not questions will be asked.
What’s next for Froome and co?
UCI have asked for more information from Froome and with an investigation forthcoming it’s unsure how quickly the matter will be resolved – some experts say it could be some months before a decision is reached.
But there have been previous cases of Salbutomol misuse from riders. Diego Ulissi got a nine month ban in 2014 for having 1920ng/ml in his system, and in 2007 Alessandro Petacchi was banned for a year for having 1320ng/ml of the drug in his system.
As for Froome it’s not the ideal situation especially after it was announced that we has is going to target the Giro D’Italia next year. Depending on the outcome, Britain’s most successful cyclist could be looking at a ban from the sport and his Vuelta title annulled.