By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
The four-times winner of the Tour de France, Chris Froome, has been cleared of alleged doping by the UCI – the World Governing Body of Cycling – and is free to compete in the 2018 edition of the event, which begins on 7 July 2018.
Froome tested positive on 7 September 2017, during the Vuelta a Espana, for a higher than the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) permitted level of salbutamol, a substance used to reduce the symptoms of asthma, from which he has suffered since childhood.
The UCI said in a statement that:
“on 28 June 2018, WADA informed the UCI it would accept, based on the specific facts of the case, that Mr Froome’s sample results do not constitute an AAF (adverse analytical finding) and in light of WADA’s unparalleled access to information and authorship of the salbutamol regime, the UCI has decided to close proceedings against Mr Froome.”
WADA stated that it would not appeal the UCI decision, adding that:
“based on careful consideration of the facts, the Agency accepts that the analytical result of Mr Froome’s sample from 7 September 2017 during the Vuelta a Espana, which identified the prohibited substance salbutamol at a concentration in excess of the decision limit, did not constitute an adverse analytical finding.”
The UCI also stated that:
“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.”
The decision in favour of Froome has not been well received in all quarters, being seen as a controversial one, which the UCI has acknowledged in the following terms:
“the UCI understands that there will be significant discussion of this decision, but wishes to reassure all that its decision is based on expert opinions, WADA’s advice, and a full assessment of the facts of the case.”
The organisers of the Tour de France, Amaury Sport Organisation, who had reportedly not wished Froome to participate in the race, whilst his doping case was pending, because, in their view, this could “damage” the event, have now accepted the UCI decision to clear Froome and allow his participation!
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’