The challenge facing Chris Froome as he seeks to avoid a doping charge has been given greater context by a freedom of Information request that revealed UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) had just three adverse findings for Salbutamol in three years and all led to charges.
Froome had twice the permitted limit of the anti-asthma drug when tested at the Vuelta a Espana in September. As the drug is not banned outright, if he can prove he kept to the permitted dosage, he would avoid a ban and being stripped of his victory in that race.
Speaking at the Ruta del Sol last month, Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “I’m not going to go into great detail about it, but 100% we’re behind him and 100% backing him.
“We’ve got full knowledge of the situation and we’re working closely to resolve the situation. The violation itself is all about the number of puffs [Froome took on his inhaler], it’s not about the urine. Has he taken more than 16 puffs in that allowable period? No, no. I’m confident he didn’t break the rules – 100% confident.”
Eurosport reports that despite large numbers of asthma sufferers in professional sport, there are few examples of athletes who take the legal amount of puffs exreting more than the 1,000 nanograms per millilitre concentration threshold for Salbutamol set by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Salbutamol accounted for three of the 109 adverse analytical findings processed by Ukad in the three years between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2017 and all three led to anti-doping rule violation cases – as did as 77 of the 109 cases overall.
Froome is next due to compete at Tirreno-Adriatico from Wednesday.