Patrick Schelling handed four-month ban for 'non-intentional' terbutaline positive

Patrick Schelling (Israel Start-Up Nation) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Israel Start-Up Nation (opens in new tab) rider Patrick Schelling (opens in new tab) has been banned for four months after a positive test for terbutaline, which the UCI has treated as a 'non-intentional anti-doping rule violation'.

The 30-year-old Swiss rider tested positive for the asthma drug on February 24, on stage 2 of the Tour de Rwanda. While he has been stripped of his results from the eight-stage race, his ban officially started on May 18 and runs through to September 17, meaning he can return to racing in nine days' time. 

The UCI stated that the case was resolved by way of an 'acceptance of consequences', under its anti-doping regulations, with the authorities happy to accept Schelling did not intend to break the rules. 

The same situation occurred four years ago when Simon Yates tested positive for the same substance, which was attributed to a team administration error in failing to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption. Yates was also given a four-month ban for a 'non-intentional' rule violation. 

Schelling's case was not linked to a TUE, and he acknowledged he made a 'mistake' in using terbutaline. Usage of the drug in any amount requires a TUE, while certain other asthma drugs can be used without one, up to a certain amount.

"I have suffered from asthma since childhood. It was an unintentional mistake to use a non-allowed asthma spray, and I would like to apologize to the authorities, to the team, and to the whole cycling family," Schelling said. 

"It has never been my intention to damage the image of cycling, I regret my wrongdoing and I take full responsibility for my error in judgment."

Schelling could face further action from his employers, Israel Start-Up Nation, who released a statement saying they were unaware of the medication being used by their rider. 

Schelling joined the WorldTour team this year after spending four years at Continental level with Team Vorarlberg, prior to which he spent the first three years of his professional career with IAM Cycling.

"ISN was not aware that Mr. Schelling was taking this substance, as it was not declared to the team," read the team's statement. "We accept the sanction by the UCI, which was imposed in accordance with the Anti-Doping Rules. ISN will deal with this internally to ensure that such violations are not repeated."

Terbutaline, used via an inhaler to treat asthma, is listed under class S3 (Beta-2 Agonists) on the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list. As with other banned asthma drugs, such as salbutamol, terbutaline is a 'specified' substance on WADA's list, meaning a provisional suspension is not mandatory, and bans are only enforced and announced upon resolution of the case. 

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Patrick Fletcher
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.