The UCI confirmed on Wednesday, December 13, that Chris Froome (Team Sky) was notified of an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for salbutamol in excess of 1,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) in a sample collected during the Vuelta a España this September 7, an event where he went on to win the overall title.
Froome was notified of the AAF on September 20, the same day he finished third in the elite men's time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen.
The analysis of the B sample confirmed the results of the rider's A sample to have 2,000ng/ml of salbutamol, twice WADA's threshold limit, and the proceedings are being conducted in line with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, according to a statement from the UCI.
Froome has said previously that he suffered from asthma since he was a child and has used inhalers during his career. He explained that his symptoms worsened during the Vuelta, and he sought medical advice from the team doctor in order to increase his salbutamol dosage. Team Sky principal David Brailsford said the team will co-operate with the UCI to establish the cause of Froome's elevated concentration.
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The World Anti-Doping Agency has regulations around the use of salbutamol, a bronchodialator (beta 2-agonist) used to treat asthma.
The medication is strictly prohibited in oral and injectable forms. When used to treat asthmatic symptoms via an inhaler, however, WADA's prohibited list provides that "the presence in urine of salbutamol in excess of 1000 ng/mL or formoterol in excess of 40 ng/mL is presumed not to be an intended therapeutic use of the substance and will be considered as an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) unless the Athlete proves, through a controlled pharmacokinetic study, that the abnormal result was the consequence of the use of the therapeutic dose (by inhalation) up to the maximum dose indicated above."
In a statement announcing Froome's AAF, the UCI stated that, "the presence of a Specified Substance such as salbutamol in a sample does not result in the imposition of such mandatory provisional suspension against the rider."
Team Sky have been surrounded by controversy this year. It was announced on November 15, 2017, that the UKAD investigation into an 'allegation of wrongdoing' involving Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky, British Cycling and a mystery medical package had closed and no charges would be brought against any of the parties involved, but there was no definitive conclusion. During the investigation, Froome managed to keep clear and separated from the key issues despite being the team's outright leader. Follow that timeline here.
In this new timeline, Cyclingnews tracks the development of the story surrounding salbutamol and Froome's adverse analytical finding at twice the legal threshold.
January 19, 2015: Italian Diego Ulissi given nine-month ban for salbutamol positive.
February 25, 2015: Moldovan rider Alexandr Pliuschin suspended for salbutamol 'non-negative'.
September 7, 2017: Vuelta a España, stage 18. Froome distances Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) on the short final climb to Alto de Santo Toribio de Liébana to extend his lead atop the overall standings to 1:37. After the stage, Froome undergoes an anti-doping control carried out by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), the independent body mandated by the UCI to take charge of defining and implementing the anti-doping strategy in cycling.
September 10, 2017: Vuelta a España stage 21. Froome completes Tour de France - Vuelta a Espana double. He is the first rider since Bernard Hinault to win the Tour and the Vuelta in the same year, and the first British rider to win the Spanish Grand Tour.
September 20, 2017: Froome claims the bronze medal in the men's individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen. He is also notified of his AAF for salbutamol in the September 7 anti-doping control carried out at the Vuelta a España.
November 29, 2017: Froome confirms that he will start the 2018 Giro d'Italia in Jerusalem and attempt to complete the Giro-Tour double.
December 13, 2017: Team Sky release a statement regarding Froome's AAF for salbutamol, followed by the UCI statement confirming the AAF.
December 13, 2017: News of Froome's AAF for salbutamol emerged in Europe after a joint investigation by The Guardian in Britain and Le Monde in France.
December 13, 2017: Froome returns adverse analytical finding for salbutamol is reported throughout the cycling press and the mainstream media.
December 13, 2017: Speculation as to whether or not Froome's salbutamol result sink Team Sky. With no fixed timeline for the case, and with lawyers now the most important protagonists in any form of resolution, Team Sky once again finds itself centre stage.
December 13, 2017:Nibali reacts to Chris Froome's AAF for salbutamol. "If his case is confirmed as a positive, nobody can give me back the emotions I would have felt by winning the Vuelta and climbing on the top step of the podium in Madrid," Nibali is reported as saying by the Tuttobici website.
December 13, 2017: Vuelta a España organisers call for 'extreme caution' after Froome salbutamol result. "Regarding today's news about Christopher Froome's unfavourable test result during La Vuelta 2017, Unipublic, the organiser of La Vuelta, wishes to communicate that it will await the UCI's official conclusions," Unipublic said in a statement.
December 13, 2017: Chris Froome defends himself, says he has not broken any rules, that the AAF is 'not a positive test'
December 14, 2017:Cyclingnews team discuss the grey areas of Chris Froome's AAF case in the podcast.
December 15, 2017: Former UCI President Pat McQuaid calls Froome's case 'troubling and worrying'
December 15, 2017: Chris Froome hires former Bruyneel and Contador lawyer for salbutamol case. Bahrain-Merida manager Brent Copeland complains that most teams would have suspended a rider in a case like Froome's.
December 16, 2017: Former UCI President Brian Cookson states that Chris Froome had no special treatment from the UCI.
December 18, 2017: Romain Bardet, who finished on the Tour de France podium in 2016 and 2017, says Froome case 'is not good news for cycling'.
December 18, 2017: Speaking to the BBC, Froome says he is in a 'horrible situation' but remains focused on his goal of winning the 2018 Giro d'Italia, and then a fifth Tour de France in July.
December 19, 2017: The Movement for Credibility in Cycling (MPCC) calls for Team Sky to provisionally suspend Froome until the case is resolved. Contacted by Cyclingnews, Team Sky did not wish to comment.
December 19, 2017:Geraint Thomas tells Cyclingnews that he believes in Chris Froome but is preparing for a free role at the 2018 Tour de France.
December 19, 2017: Tony Martin backtracks on his comments that Froome received special treatment from the UCI.
December 21, 2017: On his Stages podcast, Lance Armstrong states that Chris Froome's reputation is 'tarnished forever'.
December 22, 2017: Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme calls for a swift resolution to Froome's situation.
January 4, 2018: Jan Bakelants speculated that Chris Froome is going to be suspended and says "that will be right"
January 4, 2018: Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond speaks out on the case, arguing that Froome is accountable and should be punished. He labels Froome's predicted defense as "ridiculous", and goes on to criticise Dave Brailsford and Team Sky as a whole, suggesting they are "too good to be true".
January 4, 2018: A reluctant spokesman: Tom Dumoulin adapts to his new status, expresses his opinion on Chris Froome case.
January 5, 2018: Richie Porte says he's "flabbergasted" about the case
January 5, 2018: Cyclo-cross star Mathieu van der Poel questioned the use of asthma drugs in sport, and says Froome should be suspended.
January 10, 2018: Lotto Soudal's Tim Wellens reveals that he refused the use of an inhaler to boost his breathing capacity, and that his brother stopped riding rather than compete with exercise-induced asthma. Wellens questioned the rampant use of inhalers in cycling.
January 10, 2018: Compton questions Chris Froome's asthma medication claims.
January 11, 2018: Lefevere on Chris Froome case: If cycling wants to be credible, things have to be clearer.
January 13, 2018: Alberto Contador: A fast decision on Chris Froome case would be for the best. Retired Grand Tour star says delays in resolving case are 'bad for everybody'.
January 16, 2018: Romain Bardet: I don't see how Chris Froome can race as if nothing is going on.
January 16, 2018: Giro d'Italia director Mauro Vegni calls on UCI to 'sort out' Chris Froome's salbutamol case.
January 16, 2018: Floyd Landis, whose doping disqualification from the 2006 Tour de France led to the end of Team Phonak, says Chris Froome's salbutamol case could have a similar devastating effect on Team Sky.