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Nairo Quintana has been stripped of his sixth-overall finish at the 2022 Tour de France after the painkiller tramadol was found in his system at the race.
Use of tramadol in-competition has been banned since March 2019 “in order to protect the riders’ health and safety in light of the side-effects of this substance” the UCI explained in a statement announcing they had sanctioned the 32-year-old.
Two dried blood samples provided by Quintana on July 8 and 13 during the Tour contained both tramadol and its two main metabolites.
This is an infringement of ‘UCI Medical Rules’, cycling’s governing body made clear in its statement, and does not constitute an Anti-Doping Rule Violation. As this is his first offence the Colombian is not suspended from racing and so can line-up for the Vuelta a España, which starts this week.
Quintana has since denied using tramadol.
“Today I have learned with surprise of the UCI’s announcement of an infraction for the use of tramadol,” he wrote on Twitter. “I am totally unaware of the use of this substance, and I deny having used it in my career. 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.”
Quintana has 10 days to appeal the decision before the Court of Arbitration, having also yesterday announced a three-year contract extension with his team Arkéa-Samsic.
The team also released a statement about Quintana’s test.
“The Arkéa-Samsic team has taken note of the notification from the UCI and received by Nairo Quintana informing him of the presence of tramadol in two dried blood samples collected during the last Tour de France,” the team wrote. “Since March 1, 2019, the UCI Medical Regulations have provided for the prohibition of Tramadol in competition for medical reasons. Moreover, this violation of the UCI medical regulations does not lead to a suspension for the rider.
“The Arkéa-Samsic team will not provide any further comment.”
The UCI collected a total of 120 dried blood samples as part of the tramadol programme during the 2022 Tour de France, with samples collected by the International Testing Agency (ITA).