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WADA issue statement to ‘clarify facts’ of the UCI decision

Last week Sports Shorts considered the UCI decision to close the investigation against four time Tour de France winner Chris Froome. In the wake of that decision, criticism of Froome and the decision was still present with the Team Sky rider being booed at the team presentation. Froome ultimately did not get off to the best start at the competition crashing into Richie Porte on the first day.

It appears that suspicions remain in relation to the events that have led to the case being dropped, which can only have be compounded by the closed door process that led to that decision. In the light of this, WADA decided to publish a statement last night on 11 July 2018 to “clarify elements that have been subject to much speculation and misinformation.”

The WADA statement was split into two sections, section one being “The substance, the test and the science” and section two “The process”. The key elements of the statement are summarised below.

In summary, WADA has:

  • defended its current salbutamol level threshold;
  • listed a number of WADA sponsored salbutamol studies showing their expertise in the matter;
  • stated that it wanted a CPKS, and if necessary was willing to pursue disciplinary proceedings at the UCI and CAS level, as opposed to the UCI which accepted that a CPKS would not have been fruitful in this case;
  • confirmed that it is not unusual for salbutamol cases to be concluded without sanction – according to the WADA Anti-Doping Management System (ADAMS) data from 2013-17, of 41 cases involving salbutamol as the only substance and 47 involving salbutamol in combination with other substances, only 50% have resulted in sanction;
  • confirmed that between 2013-2017 only four cases have involved salbutamol use in road cycling; three have resulted in suspensions (ranging from six to nine months) and one has resulted in acquittal;
  • confirmed that it had asked to be added to the proceedings as a third party, but the request was denied by the UCI tribunal;
  • confirmed that it was heavily involved in the process and ultimately accepted that Froome’s result was “not inconsistent with the ingestion of a permissible dose of inhaled salbutamol”;
  • revealed that Froome sent a specific request for further information to WADA asking for the “scientific basis for the salbutamol threshold”; and
  • confirmed that Froome’s “substantial explanations” were reviewed by WADA by both in-house and external experts.

That WADA felt the need to publish a further statement gives an indication as to the level of disruption this has caused to the sport as a whole. An interesting point of note is that at one stage of the proceedings at least, WADA and the UCI seem to have been at odds as to the best way to proceed with the case. Ultimately, however that appear to have come to a unified decision.

The UCI will hope that this satisfies any suspicions held by the cycling community, but in any case Froome’s performance at the Tour will be closely watched by cycling fans irrespective of this statement.

© Copyright 2018 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

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