Team Sky could question Salbutamol test or permitted limit

The case resulting from Chris Froome’s adverse analytical finding for Salbutamol at last year’s Vuelta a Espana is likely to rumble on beyond this year’s Tour de France. Team Sky had hoped the UCI would rule there was no disciplinary case to answer, but Le Monde reports that the argument was rejected, meaning the case will go to court with no date yet set for it to begin.

ASO is said to believe that the wording of its rules would enable it to exclude Froome from the race should his case still be ongoing, while Giro d’Italia organisers RCS Sport have been similarly keen to avoid a repeat of the scenario where Alberto Contador was disqualified as winner of the 2011 race after subsequently being handed a backdated two-year ban resulting from his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France.

The UCI have reportedly considered imposing a provisional ban to prevent such scenarios, but for the time being Froome is free to race.

Nicolas Portal, sports director of Team Sky, told the Guardian: “For now he is focused on the idea of doing the Giro and the Tour. What he would like is that the UCI can give a decision right away. Because it’s not ideal to prepare for races like that.”

Froome’s lawyer, Mike Morgan, is reported to have requested and been refused access to anti-doping samples that the rider had provided in the days leading up to his adverse test.

Another possible defence would be to question the salbutamol test and the current limit of 1,000 nanograms per millilitre as determined by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada). However, Wada’s director general, Olivier Rabin, pointed out that “the rule has been established for a long time, the allowed level has not changed and similar cases have already been judged by CAS.”

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