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Nairo Quintana sanctioned by UCI for Tour de France tramadol infringement

The analyses of two dried blood samples provided by the rider on 8 and 13 July during the 2022 Tour de France revealed the presence of tramadol and its two main metabolites

The UCI has sanctioned Nairo Quintana for an infringement of the in-competition ban on using the painkiller tramadol after analyses of two dried blood samples provided by the rider on 8 and 13 July during the 2022 Tour de France revealed the presence of tramadol and its two main metabolites.

The Colombian has been disqualified from the race, losing his sixth place finish, but, as infringements of the in-competition ban on using tramadol are offences under the UCI Medical Rules, and it is Quintana's first offence, he is not banned from competition and can race the Vuelta a España.

Quintana may appeal the disqualification before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within the next 10 days.

The UCI said a total of 120 dried blood samples were collected at the Tour as part of the tramadol programme. Since March 2019, use of tramadol in-competition has been banned to "protect the riders’ health and safety in light of the side-effects of this substance".

At the time, concerns had been raised that the powerful painkiller could heighten the risk of crashes due to the drug's side effects of nausea, drowsiness and loss of concentration, as well as possible addiction.

Samples are collected by the International Testing Agency (ITA) using the Dried Blood Spots (DBS) reference method. Developed by the Swiss company DBS Systems, sampling kits are used to conduct this minimally invasive test, which involves collecting a small amount of blood from the rider's fingertip.

The dates provided by the UCI, July 8 and 13, relate to stages finishing at La Planche des Belles Filles, the first summit finish of the race, and Col du Granon when Quintana finished second behind Jonas Vingegaard.

The 33-year-old rose to fifth on GC following his stage 11 display, but finished sixth on GC in Paris having lost time in the penultimate day time trial.

[📷: Zac Williams/]

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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Jem PT | 1 year ago

Odd. He must have been in a LOT of pain to take a pain-killer that would make him drowsy and doesn't enhance his power.

IanEdward replied to Jem PT | 1 year ago
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I was on a course of Tramadol due to a herniated disc. There is an anti-nausea drug you can take to mitigate the sickness, and I don't remember it making me particularly drowsy, in fact (perhaps in combination with the Gabapentin) I almost felt a stimulant effect

I could almost understand why you might take it during sport but you'd have to be desperate I think, not a nice drug to mess around with...

Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
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Interesting.  You're meant to be in massive amounts of pain before using tramadol.  Also it takes time both to build up and dissapate in your system.

Paul J replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
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Well, climbing a mountain at 390W+ for tens of minutes does cause a lot of "pain" - body screaming at you to ease off.

The sports scientists I've known believe that a non-trivial amount of the difference between the very best athletes and the competition is psychological: The mental "governor" in the head that lets them push their body closer to its absolute physiological maximum than others with the same physiology.

I guess a bit of tramadol helps dull that pain and allows them to push just a /little/ bit more.

bobbinogs replied to Paul J | 1 year ago
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Unfortunately for a lot of old pros in many sports, the ability to push through the pain barrier is what has left many of them crippled after retirement.  Pain can be inconvenient but it can also be the body's way of saying "stop, enough is enough".  I would question the decision process of the doctors on this one, in that what the patient wants isn't necessarily in his best interests.

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