Dutch Cyclist Suspended for Four Years for Inhaler Use
Medication or doping?
Opinion: A Dutch amateur cyclist has been suspended for four years by the KNWU (the Dutch Cycling Federation) disciplinary committee for a doping violation. The rider tested positive for the asthma drug Salbutamol in an in-competition doping control on June 2, 2019.
According to Dutch cycling website, WielerFlits; at the beginning of this month, the Institute of Sports Justice (ISR) confirmed the four-year suspension after a long procedure. The original requirement of a two-year suspension by the Dutch Doping Authority was increased to four years because deliberate (over) use of the asthma drug was deemed proven.
Chris Froome proved his ‘innocence’
In conversation with NPO Radio 1 program Pointer, the cyclist told his story together with his lawyer Lars Westhoff and doping expert Douwe de Boer, who have assisted him in the past eighteen months to prove his innocence. The rider is not mentioned by name in both the ISR pronunciation and in the radio broadcast. WielerFlits has confirmed that it concerns 26 year-old amateur cyclist Sjors Dekker.
“It was a very hot day,” said Dekker about the race in which he was found positive. “Temperatures reached 34 degrees Celsius. That day I ended up in a leading group of four that was allowed to sprint for the victory, but due to the intense heat I was unable to sprint anymore. I almost lost consciousness. Rarely have I made such an effort under this temperature.” In the end, he finished the race in third place.
“I then suffered from cystic fibrosis and chest tightness in the lungs. I could barely breathe with my lungs. It was like a spider web that you have to get out. And then you long for your medicine. After the finish, my situation was so worrying that I took two more puffs (of his Ventolin inhaler). At the doping control I then indicated that I am an asthmatic.”
Medication or doping?
Almost three months later, at the end of September, Dekker received mail from the Doping Authority. “Then all alarm bells rang. I then got very emotional. That is incomprehensible. The world is then just too small. I appealed, but then got back a folder of files. You don’t know how to act accordingly. I then engaged Westhoff and De Boer.”
In the A-sample from Dekker, 1.9 μg / ml (= 1900 ng/ml) salbutamol was found. The Doping rule stipulates that the presence of salbutamol in a concentration greater than 1.0 μg/ml (= 1000 ng/ml) does not (any longer) indicate a therapeutic use of the substance and is therefore regarded as a violation of Article 3 of the Doping Regulations.
Simon Yates failed a doping control in the 2016 Paris-Nice due to terbutaline
“I really can’t think of it. That they think about one and not the other,” he continued. The suspended Dutchman is referring to four-time Tour winner Chris Froome, who was acquitted for the same offence. “Maybe they think I’m an easy victim. I’m now being put down like a piece of garbage. As someone who has done a full EPO program. But I only used my medication. I am facing four tough years.”
Institute of Sports Justice
The ISR does not agree with the story of the suspended Dutch rider: “(1) It has not become apparent that the person concerned was in possession of a valid dispensation for the use of salbutamol at the time of the check. It has also not been found that the person concerned has applied for a dispensation for the use of salbutamol after the doping control.”
“(2) The circumstance put forward by the person concerned that the tropical conditions prior to and during the competition, in combination with the maximum permitted amount of used salbutamol, led to the (much) too high concentration of salbutamol found, is not proven by the disciplinary committee.”
Extra attention for Chris Froome at the Giro
Froome was acquitted in 2018 with approximately the same levels of Salbutamol in the body (2,000 nanograms per millimetre to 1,900 nanograms per millimetre). However, Froome has always denied taking too much Salbutamol and successfully demonstrated this. Dekker acknowledges, according to the ruling, that he ‘puffed’ more that day than is permitted.
De Boer thinks it is unfair: “Froome had a lot more money. This allowed him to build up a better defence. If you have no money and you are an amateur it will be difficult.” He concluded: “It is clear that he is 5-0 behind. The rules are very strict.”
# Thanks to WielerFlits for the information. #