Nairo Quintana refutes tramadol charges: ‘I deny ever using it during my career’

Colombian star vows to take legal fight to CAS after UCI strips him of his 2022 Tour de France sixth place.

Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images

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Nairo Quintana vows to fight allegations leveled by the UCI on Wednesday that he used tramadol, and denied taking the ‘prohibited’ painkiller during the 2022 Tour de France.

In a brief statement, the 32-year-old Colombian strongly denied using tramadol, and said Wednesday he will take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“Today I realized by surprise the news from the UCI of an infraction for the use of tramadol,” Quintana said. “I am totally unaware of the use of this substance, and I deny ever using it during my career.

“With my legal team we will exhaust every means to prepare my defense,” Quintana said in a message released to Colombian media. “I also want to confirm that I will be at the Vuelta a España, mounted on my bike to give the maximum for my team, my country, and my followers.”

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On Wednesday, the UCI released the blockbuster news that Quintana tested for traces of tramadol during two routine blood controls during the 2022 Tour.

The opioid painkiller is not on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list, but its use is prohibited by the international cycling federation during competition.

The UCI’s medical team said controls revealed that Quintana used tramadol during the 2022 Tour, when he rode to his best result since 2019 with sixth overall.

According to the UCI, Quintana’s Tour results will be stripped.

Because it is not considered a formal anti-doping violation, however, Quintana will be allowed to continue to compete and will not race a possible racing ban.

The news broke just as Quintana is preparing to start the Vuelta a España on Friday for the first time since 2019 with his French team Arkéa-Samsic.

Only Tuesday the team announced a three-year contract extension with the 32-year-old Colombian.

Arkéa-Samsic team officials said they “took note” as a legal recognition of the situation, but refused to comment further.

Here is the UCI statement released Wednesday:

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that the Colombian rider Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas has been sanctioned for an infringement of the in-competition ban on using tramadol as set out in the UCI Medical Rules with the aim of protecting the safety and health of riders in light of the side-effects of this substance.

“The analyses of two dried blood samples provided by the rider on 8 and 13 July during the 2022 Tour de France revealed the presence of tramadol and its two main metabolites. In accordance with the UCI Medical Rules, the rider is disqualified from the 2022 Tour de France. This decision may be appealed before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within the next 10 days.”

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