An amateur rider has revealed his battle to overturn a doping ban after he tested positive for salbutamol.
The unnamed Dutch rider has spoken publicly about his positive test from 2019, after finishing third in an amateur race in the Netherlands, which has resulted in a harsh suspension from racing.
In an interview with Dutch news organisation Pointer, the rider has explained how he has tried to overturn his ban using the same defence used by Chris Froome after his salbutamol Adverse Analytical Finding in 2017, which resulted in Froome being cleared of any wrongdoing after a seven-month investigation.
The rider revealed how he had raced on an extremely hot day in the summer of 2019, finishing the race exhausted and suffering from an asthma attack.
He then took two inhalations of the medicine salbutamol, used in the treatment of asthma but which also has potential performance enhancing properties, before he went to the race doping control.
He said: “You should see it as a kind of spider web of mucus that has to come out. Breathing hurts. At that moment I longed for my own medicine that I have been using for years against asthma and chronic bronchitis.”
The rider says he informed the testers that he had taken the medicine, but a month later he received a letter informing him that he had returned a positive test for salbutamol, and that he had been banned from the sport for two years.
Salbutamol is not a banned substance and doesn’t require a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) in sport, but its use is restricted by the World Anti-Doping Agency as athletes can take up to 1,600 micrograms of the drug in a 24-hour period.
Following notification of his positive test, the amateur rider sought the help of lawyer Lars Westhoff and doping expert Douwe de Boer, who argued that this case is similar to that of Froome’s AAF, however the doping authorities didn’t agree and increased his ban to four years.
The amateur rider said: “You are put away like a piece of garbage. It’s impossible to describe how that feels.”
He will continue to appeal his ban.
Froome’s salbutamol case revolved around the 2017 Vuelta a España, when a doping control after stage 18 revealed he had too much salbutamol in his system.
As Froome went on to win that edition of the Vuelta, the AAF remained secret until December 2018 when it was leaked to a number of news organisations.
Reports suggested that Froome and Team Sky, who he was then racing for, attempted to prove that Froome’s kidneys had not functioned properly and had accumulated salbutamol, which was then excreted in high levels, while also casting doubt on the WADA test for salbutamol.
In July 2018 Froome, who suffers from lifelong asthma, was cleared of any wrongdoing after the UCI dropped its case against him, but no details were provided about exactly why the case against Froome was let go.