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Everything you need to know about Chris Froome's failed drug test


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Four-time Tour De France winner Chris Froome could face a 12 month ban after having double the legal amount of asthma drug Salbutamol in his urine.

The Briton, who won the Tour De France and Vuelta a Espana earlier this year, was found to have exceeded the acceptable Salbutamol limit after the 17th stage of September’s Vuelta.

What is Salbutamol?

Salbutamol is most commonly taken via an inhaler and is used to relieve symptoms of asthma such as coughing, wheezing and feeling breathless. It relaxes the muscles of the airways into the lungs which makes it easier to breathe.

Earlier this year Wada introduced strict dosage regulations for several asthma drugs - including Salbutamol - though numerous medical studies have suggested there is no enhancement in performance for an athlete inhaling Salbutamol.

Dr Tom Bassindale, an anti-doping scientist at Sheffield Hallam University, told BBC Sport: "I wouldn't anticipate a few extra puffs on an inhaler would have any performance-enhancing effect. The drug can have similar effects to drinking coffee - your heart beats faster, it can give you a quick boost like caffeine."

Why has Froome failed the Drugs Test?

Under Wada’s rules, athletes are allowed to take up to 16 puffs of salbutamol in a 24-hour period, or eight in a 12-hour span. However athletes will fail a drugs test if they are found to have salbutamol in excess of 1000 nanograms per millilitre in their urine. In the case of Froome, the level was around 2000 nanograms per millilitre meaning he could have taken up to 32 puffs.

Team Sky said in a statement: “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.”

What happens next?

Froome’s failed drugs test is not an anti-doping violation rather an adverse analytical finding. This means Froome is perceived innocent by the UCI but must prove the abnormal result came from taking a permitted amount of the drug. He can still compete although if he does not present a satisfying reason in the coming weeks he will be stripped of his 2017 Vuelta title and will receive a lengthy ban.

In 2014, Italian rider Diego Ulissi got a nine-month ban for 1920ng/ml, a similar level to Froome. Another Italian, Alessandro Petacchi, received a 12 month ban for 1320ng/ml in 2007 and was stripped of his five Giro d’Italia stage victories. However, the Swiss cyclist Leonardo Piepoli did not collect a ban for levels reportedly similar to Petacchi’s in 2007.

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