French newspaper claims UCI hasn’t followed WADA’s rules over TUE approval

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Following on from its claims last week that the UCI may have broken its own rules over the approval of the use of a corticosteroid by Chris Froome in the Tour de Romandie, a race the Briton went on to win, the French Journal du Dimanche newspaper said on Sunday that the UCI had not followed WADA regulations on the granting of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs).

According to the paper, it pressed WADA’s director general David Howman on the matter. It reports that Howman has said that he and WADA have ‘asked the UCI to rapidly remedy the shortcomings identified in this case.’

The Journal du Dimanche clarifies that the shortcomings are the lack of a committee to approve the usage of TUEs. Under WADA regulation 2.1.1, ‘The ADO [anti-doping organisation] must set up a network of physicians responsible for evaluating TUE applications.

“TUE Committees (TUECs) should include at least three physicians with experience in the care and treatment of athletes and a sound knowledge of clinical, sports and exercise medicine (see Article 6.1 of the International Standard for TUEs). The TUEC will be chaired by one of the member physicians.”

According to le Journal du Dimanche, approvals of TUEs are currently the sole responsibility of the UCI’s medical commission coordinator Dr. Mario Zorzoli. It said that following WADA’s approach, the UCI will now put the committee in place this week in time for the Tour de France.

As noted by the Inner Ring, the UCI last week claimed full compliance with WADA regulation. It stated: “Christopher Froome’s TUE for oral use of glucocorticosteroids was granted on April 29, 2014 based on duly documented medical history and in compliance with the applicable UCI Regulations and the relevant WADA guidelines. The TUE was granted for a limited period, following the usual procedure…”

“…The UCI wishes to emphasise that under the applicable rules – which are consistent with the WADA Code and the WADA TUE Standard and Guidelines – any rider with the same symptoms as Christopher Froome would have received a similar TUE.”

UCI president Brian Cookson was asked on Twitter by journalist Paul Kimmage to comment on the matter, but declined to do anything other than say “WADA confirmed that the correct procedures were followed.”

He didn’t address the Journal du Dimanche’s claims that no committee was in place. [Note: this WADA document lays out a model for anti doping organisations, and requests details of the TUE committee making decisions on each athlete case].

Meanwhile the same newspaper also reported Sunday that the banned doping agent AICAR is finally detectable, five years after it was banned in 2009.

The substance causes the body to shed weight and also boosts endurance. It had been difficult to identify prior to this point as tests had to distinguish between natural levels and those introduced artificially.

According to the Journal du Dimanche, the distinction is now possible to be made due to IRMS evaluation. The process has long been used in differentiating between naturally occurring and artificial testosterone, and was employed in the Floyd Landis case.

Swiss doping laboratory director Martial Saugy told the French newspaper that ‘the detection method is robust and will be completed very quickly.’

It is indicated that the test could be used on this year’s Tour de France, and also that last year’s samples may also be retroactively examined.

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