Alessandro Petacchi served a nine-month ban following his 2007 positive test for salbutamol but the Italian has welcomed the UCI’s decision to drop its anti-doping proceedings against Chris Froome, despite the fact that the Sky rider’s urine sample contained twice the permitted level of the substance.
“I didn’t have the same help with legal costs that Froome was able to find with Sky, but I’m happy that he has been finally absolved, because that vindicates me retrospectively,” Petacchi told L’Équipe.
Petacchi returned a sample containing 1,352ng/ml of salbutamol following stage 11 of the 2007 Giro d’Italia – the permitted threshold is 1,000ng/ml – and was withheld from that year’s Tour de France. Although Petacchi was initially absolved by the Italian cycling federation, WADA appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and he was ultimately handed a nine-month ban and stripped of his five stage wins on the 2007 Giro.
Froome’s returned a sample contained 2,000ng/ml of salbutamol following stage 18 of the 2017 Vuelta – twice the permitted threshold – but did not withhold himself from racing and won the Giro in May. On Monday, the UCI announced that it had dropped its proceedings against Froome, citing advice from WADA. Froome’s legal team reportedly submitted 1,500 pages of documentation to support his case, although Froome did not undergo pharmacokinetic testing to try to replicate the conditions of his positive test.
Like Froome, Petacchi insisted that he had not exceeded the permitted dosage of salbutamol from the oral inhaler he used to treat asthma. The Italian believes that his defence was similar to that put forward by Froome’s legal team.
“For my defence, I surrounded myself with experts because I had inhaled half the dose of salbutamol found in my urine. One of them, an Australian, tried to argue to the UCI what Froome and Sky tried to demonstrate – in the case of strong heat and dehydration, urine becomes very concentrated and the level of salbutamol increases in very high proportions,” Petacchi said.
“Later [in 2014 – ed.] Diego Ulissi experienced the same problem and, to defend himself, he underwent some tests on the home trainer at UCI headquarters so they could measure his level of perspiration and hydration. The UCI agreed to reduce his ban to nine months instead of two years after they recorded various fluctuations in the analysis.”
Following the UCI's announcement on Monday morning, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme confirmed that ASO has dropped its attempt to bar Froome from the race, which gets underway on Saturday.