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Sarah Storey received backdated TUE for salbutamol at 2012 Paralympics

Britains quadruple gold medalwinning cyclist Sarah Storey poses during a parade celebrating Britains athletes who competed in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in central London on September 10 2012 Britain was bidding a fond farewell om September 10 to a golden summer of Olympic and Paralympic sport with a victory parade by athletes through London ending up at Buckingham Palace AFP PHOTO POOL STEFAN WERMUTH Photo credit should read STEFAN WERMUTHAFPGettyImages
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sarah Storey was granted a backdated Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) after returning an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for salbutamol during the 2012 Paralympics.

The Times revealed on Monday that Britain's most successful Paralympian had exceeded the limit for the asthma drug in a sample taken after she won the first of her four gold medals at her home Games in London. 

However, she was reportedly not informed of the finding until a week later, on September 7, by which point she had collected the other three titles. 

Storey then applied for a retroactive TUE through the British Paralympic Association (BPA), which was granted by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Storey's lawyers confirmed to The Times that she had returned the adverse analytical finding, explaining that she used a salbutamol inhaler after experiencing "breathing difficulties". 

She had just won gold in the C5 category in 3km individual pursuit, catching Poland's Anna Harkowska just over half-way through a short-lived and one-sided final, and was about to give interviews to the media.

Ethical concerns over the use of TUEs and asthma medication would hit the spotlight in 2016 when Fancy Bears leaked medical data from numerous athletes, later forming part of a British parliamentary inquiry into doping in sport.

According to The Times, Independent Observers for the World Anti Doping Agency raised concerns at the time, suggesting Storey should have been "requested to undergo a pharmacokinetic study to explain the AAF and therefore allow the IPC to properly close the case." 

However, a spokesperson for the BPA told The Telegraph: "We are entirely confident that the correct procedures were followed at the time and have all the relevant supporting documentation.

"It is important to emphasise that just like everyone else, athletes have the right to confidentiality regarding their medical records. This is made clear in the World Anti-Doping Agency Code, International Paralympic Committee Anti-Doping Code and from agreed standards in medical practice."

Salbutamol is not a banned substance unless more than 1600 micrograms are taken in the space of 24 hours, in which case a TUE is required. A sample containing more than 1000 ng/l of salbutamol triggers an AAF. 

Chris Froome exceeded that latter limit in a test at the 2017 Vuelta a España but argued he stayed within the permitted dosage and charges were eventually dropped by the UCI and WADA. In Storey's case, it appears she admitted to exceeding the dosage but then successfully showed there was a medical need for her to do so. 

The absence of a pharmokinetic study mirrors the Froome case, with recent revelations that UCI president David Lappartient raised concerns to WADA that the four-time Tour de France winner had not undergone the testing that would have recreated the conditions of the salbutamol absorption.

Storey, who had already won two golds at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, and before that five titles in swimming, went on to win three more golds in Rio to make her Britain’s most successful female Paralympian. 

Now 43, she is expected to head to Toyko this summer to try and add to her collection in what would be her eighth Games.