A week after revealing that the UCI gave Chris Froome (Team Sky) a Theraputic Use Exemption (TUE) to use an oral corticoid containing the banned substance prednisolone during the Tour de Romandie, the French Sunday newspaper Journal du Dimanche has reported that he WADA is angry with the UCI, sparking an urgent review and changes in how the UCI decides on TUE and the use of medicines in competition.
While the case has sparked a debate about medical ethics and if Froome should have quit the race instead of taking prednisolone, WADA is not accusing Froome and Team Sky of any wrong doing. Indeed, the JDD reports that WADA accepts that "the state of Froome's health needed that treatment." It seems WADA does not intend to retroactively overturn Froome's TUE and so his victory at the Tour of Romandie is not under threat.
However, the JDD claims that WADA is angry with the UCI for allowing long-standing UCI medical supervisor Dr. Michele Zorzoli too much individual responsibility in deciding the approval of TUE. Little is known about how Zorzoli approves TUEs and how many TUEs are issued to riders per season.
The JDD claims that David Howman, the general director of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) told them he is "worried about the process of obtaining this TUE" and has apparently demanded the UCI to rapidly remediate the insufficiencies noted in the dossier."
Froome and Team Sky was given a TUE to treat a chest infection and cough after the opening stage of the Swiss stage race in late April, with Zorzoli fast-tracking the TUE application due to what he considered “exceptional circumstance”.
Froome went on to win the Tour de Romandie.
The UCI insisted to Cyclingnews last week that Zorzoli had the authority to act alone and approve TUE requests for "exceptional circumstances" rather than follow the standard procedure set out in the WADA rules, where a TUE Committee of at least three sports doctors studies any request for a TUE.
Standard TUE requests, often made to treat chronic illnesses, must be submitted 30 days before the need for approval and eventual use in an event. However, the WADA TUE guidelines, allow for rapid approval when "a normally healthy Athlete suddenly affected by a significant medical condition some days prior to an event, and unable to request a TUE within the allotted time to enable the TUEC to grant the TUE, may be considered as an “exceptional circumstance."
Today's Journal du Dimanche claims that the UCI 'n'est pas en regle' because it does not have a TUE Committee (TUEC). JDD claims that Zorzoli is the only person responsible for issuing TUE, raising questions about independence and cross checks on what grounds TUE are approved or refused.
According to the JDD, the UCI has understood why WADA is worried and the UCI Anti-Doping Foundation will create a TUE Committee in the next two weeks, before the Tour de France.
The UCI did not immediately reply to questions about the JDD report and the role of Dr. Mario Zorzoli or if it will create a TUE Committee when contacted by Cyclingnews.