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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news flash for July 17, 2002
Galdeano exceeds limit for asthma medicine, but allowed to start
By Gerard Knapp
As the Tour de France was about to start off on its second phase, news has broken this morning that current yellow jersey and leader on general classification, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE), has returned a urine sample showing excessive traces of salbutamol, the active ingredient in asthma treatments.
Galdeano returned the test after stage 6 of the Tour, won by Erik Zabel, and his sample revealed 1346 nanograms of salbutamol. The current limit is 1000 nanograms, but as Galdeano has a medical certificate which allows the rider to use the treatment, he will be allowed to continue in the race without sanctions.
The 1000 nanogram limit is the general rule, although Gonzalez' medical certificate allows him to exceed that. According to report on Belgian radio, it appears that the French national antidoping body has demanded that he (and possibly other riders) attend a specialist in Paris to check whether the medical certificate has been issued on correct grounds.
It appears to be a case of the French authorities declining to accept another body's professional opinion. This morning ONCE's director sportif Manolo Saiz told reporters "anyone who says that Galdeano used this medicine for doping purposes is completely wrong."
Galdeano is by no means the first cyclist to use salbutamol, taken to treat asthma. Last year Jan Ullrich also tested for the medicine during the Giro d'Italia.
(The prevalence of asthma amongst sportspeople is, in general, higher than for the standard population. In cycling, it has been claimed to be quite elevated in various scientific studies. For example a study of 699 athletes who competed in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta reported that 45% of the cyclists had active asthma and were taking medication for it [Weiler JM, Layton T, Hunt M., J Allergy Clin Immunol 1998 Nov;102(5):722-6]. See full story.)
The UCI regulations are as follows
Formoterol, salbutamol, salmeterol and terbutaline are permitted in the form of aerosols for the purpose of preventing and/or treating asthma and stress-related asthma: Asthma and/or stress-related asthma must be confirmed by a lung specialist or a team doctor.
The rider must produce a medical certificate and a prescription issued by a lung specialist or a team doctor during the drug tests (for riders of Trade Teams I and II only the registration on the health record booklet will be taken into consideration). If he does not comply with this, and the laboratory finds traces of one of those substances, he will be considered positive.
For salbutamol, a concentration of less than 100 nanograms per millilitre will not be taken into consideration.
Non-steroidal anabolic agents
Examples : bambuterol, salbutamol*, clenbuterol, salmeterol*, fenoterol, terbutaline*, formoterol*, zeranol, reproterol, and related substances.
* Except with a therapeutic justification for use by inhaling as described under point I. A. 1; for salbutamol a sample shall be considered as positive in the class of anabolic agents if the concentration in the urine exceeds 1000 nanograms per millilitre.
(Read the Cyclingnews.com exclusive interview with the Spanish champion.)