Nairo Quintana pulls out of Vuelta, readies himself to contest tramadol positive

After initially saying he would still start the Vuelta, Quintana withdraws from the Spanish Grand Tour.

by Jonny Long

photography by Getty Images


Nairo Quintana has announced he will not participate in the Vuelta a España after it was revealed he twice tested positive for tramadol at the Tour de France. He will instead focus on contesting his Tour disqualification before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

It was announced by the UCI two days before the start of the 2022 Spanish Grand Tour that dried blood samples provided by the Colombian had twice tested positive for tramadol and its two main metabolites on the days when the peloton tackled La Super Planche des Belles Filles and the Col du Granon.

The in-competition use of tramadol does not constitute an Anti-Doping Rule Violation but since March 2019 does contravene the ‘UCI Medical Rules’, which banned the opioid painkiller “in order to protect the riders’ health and safety in light of the side-effects of this substance”.

“I am totally unaware of the use of this substance, and I deny having used it in my career,” Quintana said on Wednesday after the announcement by cycling’s governing body. “With my team of lawyers, we are exhausting all the processes for my defence. I also want to confirm that I will stay at the Vuelta, get on my bike and give the best of my ability for my team, for my country and for my supporters.”

The very next day, however, while still present in the Netherlands for the start of the Vuelta in Utrecht, Quintana released a further statement saying he would no longer be participating in the race and instead work on bringing his appeal to CAS, which he has only 10 days to do following the ruling.

“I communicate that I will not participate in the Vuelta to assert my reasons before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS),” Quintana said in a short written update delivered in four different languages. “I will return to the calendar races at the end of the season.”

His team, Arkéa-Samsic, only said in their statement that they have taken note of the UCI’s announcement and would not be providing any further comment.

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