Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome took an increased dosage of salbutamol after experiencing “acute asthma symptoms” during the final week of Spain’s Vuelta a España in September, according to his Team Sky.
Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome had twice the permissible amount of asthma medication in his system during the Vuelta race in September, cycling’s governing body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) said on Wednesday.
An anti-doping test that the British Team Sky rider took during the race in Spain on September 7 showed double the permitted level of the drug salbutamol in his body.
The UCI has asked Froome to provide more information but has not suspended him.
Racer suffers acute asthma
Froome’s Team Sky said in a statement that Froome was told by the UCI that the test revealed a concentration of salbutamol of 2,000 nanograms, twice the permissible dosage.
Sky said that the 32-year-old Kenyan-born rider had taken additional salbutamol after he “experienced acute asthma symptoms” during the final week of the race.
Salbutamol is a drug that helps expand lung capacity. It can be used as a performance-enhancing drug to increase endurance.
After successfully defending his Tour de France title in July, Froome went on to win the Spanish Vuelta in September for the first time.
“My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my salbutamol dosage,” Froome said.
“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.”
The UCI said in a statement that both Froome’s ‘B’ sample confirmed the result, but stressed that “the presence of a specified substance such as salbutamol in a sample does not result in the imposition of such mandatory provisional suspension against the rider.”
“Chris followed the medical guidance”
Sky stressed the abnormal result does not mean Froome has breached anti-doping rules and team principal Dave Brailsford insisted he has the “utmost confidence that Chris followed the medical guidance in managing his asthma symptoms, staying within the permissible dose for Salbutamol.”
Froome’s abnormal sample was returned after Stage 18.
“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,” Sky said, adding that none of the 20 other urine tests taken by the Briton “required any further explanation.”
If found guilty of doping, Froome could lose his Vuelta title and be suspended.
He said last month that he was planning to ride the Giro d’Italia next year in an attempt to win his third Grand Tour in a row.