Following yesterday’s breaking news that Diego Ulissi was suspended by Team Lampre following a positive test result for the banned substance, Salbutamol, which was taken during this year’s Giro d"Italia, Italy’s national team coach Davide Cassani has come out in support of the Italian rider.
“I am concerned that people understand one thing, that Salbutamol doesn’t make you go stronger, it’s an accepted product,” Cassani told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper today.
“Cyclists know that if you take five puffs then you won’t go any faster. You need to understand that this isn’t doping, that it doesn’t better your performance and is not a masking agent.”
Yesterday’s report revealed that Ulissi tested positive for the substance, following a doping control after stage 11 in the Giro.
According to Ulissi and his team doctor, he used an inhaler containing Salbutamol to help treat bronchospasm. In addition, he was also given paracetamol to aid in the recovery of a crash that occurred mid-race. The reports revealed that Ulissi had 1900ng/ml of Salbutamol in his system, which is almost double the amount allowed by regulation.
The UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) only require a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for the asthma drug if more than 1600mg is used per day. The drug was recently in the news during this month’s Critérium du Dauphiné, when television footage showed Team Sky’s Chris Froome (Sky) using an inhaler in the final kilometers of a mountain stage.
“It’s quite common for endurance athletes to have exercise-induced problems,” Froome said, “so I’m not alone in that problem.”
If the test results prove to be accurate, Ulissi could be charged with over use of the drug, and face a possible two-year ban.
Team Lampre said yesterday that Ulissi will try to show why the levels could have been so high.
“He called me,” said Cassani. “He said, ‘I took those puffs in front of the doctor. One, two or three days before, I didn’t take it, only those two puffs.’ I believe he was telling me the truth, besides we are talking about Salbutamol and not EPO.”
Other cyclists in the past such as Leonardo Piepoli have been excused for using the substance, while others like Alessandro Petacchi have been sanctioned for over use.
Petacchi served a nine-month ban for over use during the 2007 Giro d’Italia.
According to experts, similar to Clenbuteral, Salbutamol can produce a performance benefit as well. Similar to Clenbuteral, Salbutamol is known to help burn fat and tone muscle.
The most notable case, involved Alberto Contador, who tested positive for Clenbuteral in the 2010 Tour de France. And, after a lengthy investigation involving numerous proceedings, the Spanish rider was stripped of his Tour de France victory.
Ulissi will have to face Swiss Cycling’s anti-doping committee and explain his case. If found guilty, he will have the right to appeal the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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