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UCI to bolster TUE procedures in wake of Froome fiasco

MILAN, Italy (VN) — The UCI said Tuesday it will strengthen its TUE procedures in the wake of the Chris Froome (Sky) affair.

“So: nobody cheated, nobody lied, nobody got exceptional treatment. Procedures in place were followed, [plus the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)] confirmed TUE was in order,” the governing body’s president, Brian Cookson wrote on Twitter.

“Nevertheless, to avoid similar controversies in the future, to reassure the fans, to continue the process of restoring the damaged image the sport, and to help protect everyone involved, those procedures will immediately be strengthened. And longer term, UCI will work with WADA to review the whole situation of TUEs in cycling.”

French weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reported June 15 that the UCI expedited a steroid TUE (therapeutic use exemption) for Froome ahead of the Tour de Romandie in May. The 2013 Tour de France champion, who was suffering from a mild chest infection, was allowed to take 40mg per day of the oral corticosteroid prednisolone during the race that he won by 28 seconds over Simon Spilak (Katusha).

Teams must normally apply for a TUE for their riders 21 days out, but if it considers the condition acute, the UCI can fast-track the procedure. An expert committee of at least three people, according to WADA rules, must still review the application. Over the weekend, the French weekly wrote that the UCI lacked a proper committee to issue the TUE and relied solely on a medical advisor, Dr. Mario Zorzoli.

“The UCI does not have the committee of experts as has long been required by the World Anti-Doping Agency rules,” the newspaper reported. “It’s the sole responsibility of Zorzoli to grant these authorizations that — as in Chris Froome’s case — can aid performances.”

It added that WADA Director General David Howman “is concerned” about the UCI’s TUE process and asked it “to quickly fix the shortcomings identified in this case.”

The UCI said yesterday, according to Reuters, it is “working closely” with Howman to review its anti-doping rules, including those regarding TUEs.

“A completely revised set of rules is in preparation and will enter into force on January 1, 2015 in conjunction with the revised 2015 WADA code and international standards, including the international standard for therapeutic use exemptions (ISTUE),” the UCI said.

“As an immediate measure, the UCI confirms that from now on, all TUE decisions will pass through the TUE committee.”

Sky said it followed the rules in its application for Froome’s TUE. The UCI brushed off favoritism claims again this week, and said it would have treated any other rider the same way.