UCI believes Nairo Quintana tramadol disqualification will survive CAS appeal

UCI president David Lappartient welcomes WADA decision to ban tramadol from 2024.

Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

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WOLLONGONG, Australia (VN) — The UCI believes that Nairo Quintana’s disqualification from the Tour de France following a positive test for tramadol will stand up to scrutiny at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Quintana, who is racing this Sunday at the UCI Road World Championships in Australia, had his sixth place overall scrubbed from the records after returning two positive tests for the opioid painkiller during the race.

He is the first rider to test positive for tramadol since the UCI banned it in 2019.

The Colombian denied using the painkiller and announced that he would appeal the punishment, which also included a 5,000 CHF fine. It is the first test of the UCI’s regulations since they were introduced, but its president David Lappartient believes that the CAS will back up its decision.

“It’s his right to appeal the decision so I have no comment on this, however, we have been able to find tramadol at two different stages. That’s not just one, it’s two. When you know that tramadol disappears very quickly then it can’t be that it was only [taken] one time,” Lappartient said in a press conference ahead of the women’s elite road race at the world championships. “We are very confident that CAS will follow the UCI.

“The rider claims that he never took tramadol, but tramadol is not something you produce yourself and if you have tramadol it’s not coming directly from your body. We’ve been able to find tramadol two times so we are quite confident and our arguments when we took the decision to ban tramadol will also explain the reason why we took the decision.”

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It is not yet known when Quintana’s appeal will be heard by the CAS, but an arbitration panel still needs to be named for the hearing.

At the moment, tramadol is only prohibited under the UCI’s health regulations, which means that riders are not automatically subject to a ban from racing. However, that is likely to change with the news that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will ban it from 2024.

Lappartient on WADA ban: ‘We welcome the decision’

Tramadol has been on the WADA watch list since 2012, meaning that the organization has been monitoring its use and effect. It announced this week that it would be moved onto its prohibited list following recommendations from its advisory board.

Lappartient, who ushered in the UCI’s ban on the painkiller, was pleased with WADA’s decision to ban it.

“I really welcome the WADA decision. Cycling has been pushing for a long time to ban tramadol in cycling and of course, we explained to WADA that our priority is safety, but we also believe in the credibility of the sport,” Lappartient said. “Of course, we expected this decision to arrive earlier but at least a decision has been taken and we will continue to make our own tests, and then we will switch to WADA. The approach that we took at the UCI is more based on the health consequences and the security of the riders because it can be dangerous.

“It is a strong painkiller. It probably won’t increase your performances but at least you will be able to push more or suffer less so that’s why it has also been banned by WADA,” he said.

“We welcome this decision, but I would say that it is one of many steps that we have in the fight against doping worldwide. Cycling is usually at the front of the bunch. Usually, there are decisions in cycling that are after enforced for other sports. We suffer more than other sports with doping and that is the reason why but we will continue to have innovation.”

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