LEEDS, United Kingdom, July 04, 2014 (AFP) – International Cycling Union
(UCI) president Brian Cookson has vowed to close a potential doping loophole
that could be exploited by would-be cheats.
Tour de France winner Chris Froome caused a stir at the Tour de Romandie
when he asked for and received an emergency TUE, or therapeutic use exemption,
for a banned corticosteroid due to exercise-induced asthma.
Froome took prednisolone tablets the day the week-long Tour de Romandie
started on April 29.
That incident led some people to accuse Froome’s Team Sky of backtracking
on a previous no-tolerance policy to doping products while the British rider’s
use of an inhaler during the Tour de Romandie also created controversy.
Cookson insisted that there was nothing untoward but said the ability to
apply for last-ditched TUEs from UCI chief medical officer Dr Mario Zorzoli
needed to be removed.
“It was in accordance with regulations,” Briton Cookson said of his
compatriot’s TUE use.
“The TUE was issued, as WADA (World Anti-doping Agency) confirmed a couple
of days later, entirely correctly. It was not put before the committee because
it was a regular matter.
“The TUE committee for the UCI was only being used for cases of a complex
or potentially controversial nature, but what I’ve said since that came to
light is maybe they’re all of a controversial nature and maybe we then need to
look at continuous improvements of our processes.
“Let’s put all of our TUE requests before a panel of our TUE experts, and
that’s what were going to do in future.”
Although Froome’s use was within the rules, it did bring up the question of
why such a short term request to use a banned substance can actually be made.
“It’s exactly because of those sort of questions that we did need to
strengthen our processes and that’s why we’ve said from now on we won’t just
have one doctor doing that,” said Cookson.
“We’ll have our panel involved because we did need to reinforce that
process, I think it’s fair to say.”