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Nairo Quintana denies tramadol use and confirms Vuelta a España participation

HAUTACAM FRANCE JULY 21 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas of Colombia and Team Arka Samsic crosses the finish line during the 109th Tour de France 2022 Stage 18 a 1432km stage from Lourdes to Hautacam 1520m TDF2022 WorldTour on July 21 2022 in Hautacam France Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images
Nairo Quintana (Image credit: Getty Images)

Nairo Quintana has denied using tramadol and confirmed his intention to ride the Vuelta a España despite testing positive for the substance at last month’s Tour de France.

The UCI announced on Wednesday that Quintana had been disqualified from his sixth-place finish at the Tour after testing positive for the pain killer on two occasions during the race. Tramadol has been banned in competition since 2019, but a positive test for the substance is classed as an infringement of UCI medical rules rather than an anti-doping violation, meaning that Quintana does not face a suspension for a first offence.

“Today I have learned with surprise of the UCI’s announcement of an infraction for the use of tramadol. I am totally unaware of the use of this substance, and I deny having used it in my career,” Quintana said in a statement posted to his Twitter account. “With my team of lawyers, we are exhausting all the processes for my defence.

“I also want to confirm that I will stay at the Vuelta, get on my bike and give the best of my ability for my team, for my country and for my supporters.”

Quintana is currently in the Netherlands ahead of the start of the Vuelta in Utrecht on Friday. Vuelta director Javier Guillen told EFE that he was powerless to prevent Quintana’s participation in the race, adding that the decision lay with the rider and his Arkéa-Samsic team.

News of Quintana’s positive test for tramadol came just a day after Arkéa-Samsic announced that they had agreed a contract extension with the Colombian, who has been with the team since 2020.

The UCI confirmed on Wednesday that Quintana had returned samples containing "the presence of tramadol and its two main metabolites" after stage 7 of the Tour de France to La Planche des Belles Filles and stage 11 to the Col du Granon.

The 32-year-old is the first rider to be disqualified for using the opioid painkiller in competition, with the UCI outlining that it had analysed 120 dried blood samples during the Tour as part of its tramadol testing programme.

Quintana has ten days in which to appeal his disqualification from the Tour to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


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Head of Features

Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.