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After Tramadol, UCI now plans to ban corticosteroids

UCI president David Lappartient says ban could come in next year

UCI president David Lappartient has revealed that it plans to ban the use of corticosteroids from next year, reports Reuters.

The news comes after world cycling’s governing body banned the use of the painkiller Tramadol earlier this month, with a number of riders specifically tested for it at Paris-Nice last week.

The drug can cause users to feel drowsy or lose concentration, and has been blamed for crashes in the peloton.

It does not appear on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List, but teams belonging to the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) had already voluntarily pledged not to use it.

Lappartient explained to Reuters that the UCI’s decision to ban Tramadol – it is the first world sporting governing body to do so – was taken in the interests of the riders’ health in an aim to head off any potential legal challenge to its decision.

“If you need Tramadol, okay, but when you take this medicine you cannot drive so you do not race your bike,” he said.

Regarding corticosteroids, the UCI president said: “We are working on this. We named a group of experts to show it is dangerous for your health,” said Lappartient.

“We are hopeful to be ready to ban it for the beginning of 2020. The idea is to not have corticosteroids in our sport in 2020.

“It is not easy though, because with Tramadol, a test is either positive or negative. With corticosteroids, there are thresholds. We are also calling for WADA to ban it.”

Often used to treat asthma and allergies, corticosteroids may be used in competition in nasal spray form, subject to thresholds, while tablets and intra-muscular injections are banned in competition unless a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) has been obtained.

Similar to Tramadol, MPCC members also adhere to a strict code of conduct on their use.

Substances falling under the heading include triamcinolone, which Sir Bradley Wiggins was able to use under TUEs ahead of key races including the 2012 Tour de France, which he won.

Used to treat his hay fever, one side-effect of the drug is that it can cause rapid weight loss without sacrificing power output – something that has led to calls for it to be banned outright.

Last year, the House of Commons Select Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said in its report on combatting doping in sport that it believed he and other Team Sky riders used triamcinolone not purely for medical need, but also to enhance performance in preparation for the 2012 Tour de France – an allegation Wiggins has vehemently denied.

The report added that it believed the contents of the Jiffy Bag delivered to former Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné with medicine for Wiggins contained not the legal decongestant Fluimucil, as Sir Dave Brailsford had claimed when giving evidence, but triamcinolone.

If that were the case, and Freeman did administer triamcinolone to the rider, that would have constituted an anti—doping rule violation since it would have happened while the race was still deemed to be in progress, and at that point Wiggins did not have a TUE for it.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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