The Tour de France has left a bitter aftertaste for Nairo Quintana (and thus the peloton as a whole). The 32-year-old Colombian player lost sixth place after traces of tramadol were detected in his blood twice. Doping expert Peter Van Einoo explains what painkillers mean in racing and why Quintana wasn’t suspended.
The head of the doping laboratory in Ghent, Peter Van Einou, cannot comment on the specific files of Nairo Quintana, but Tramadol apparently has no secrets about doping fighters.
“Tramadol is basically a strong pain reliever and is often used therapeutically, and if you have severe pain, it works wonders,” explains Van Eenoo.
“It is sometimes abused in sport, but it is not on the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA’s banned list. To be clear, it is not doping, but the International Cycling Union UCI has banned it. .”
Therefore, Quintana has not committed a doping violation. “It’s against the rules of the game, in the same way that the bike is too light. So there are sanctions.”
“The first is excluded from the results, the second is a five-month suspension, and the third is a nine-month suspension.”
To clarify, Tramadol is not a doping, but the United Cycling International (UCI) has banned the product.
“The list will be reviewed in September.”
Tramadol is therefore a pain reliever, but Peter Van Eenoo shows that the drug “does more than that.”
“Every athlete knows what pain is and is already feeling cramps.
“It reduces pain, but recent studies have shown it is also a performance-enhancing stimulant.”
“I’m not on the banned list for the time being, but that could change on January 1st. That list will always be reviewed in September.”
Why am I not on the list yet? “In recent years, researchers have established that the problem is almost entirely related to cycling, so other sports federations have refused to put it on their doping lists.”
“Far fewer cases, congratulations to UCI”
According to Peter Van Eenoo, Tramadol is “traceable for days” and “very easily” detected in a drop of blood.
In March 2019, the UCI switched to a full ban. “Heavy painkillers often cause numbness and dizziness. At Peloton, you put yourself and your colleagues at risk.”
“When Tramadol was still in widespread use a few years ago, the crashes were much more frequent. Quatang claimed that those crashes were due to Tramadol, but this has never been definitively proven.”
“It’s a big issue and we’re still monitoring it, but we’re seeing a significant drop in the number of cases since the UCI changed their rules. So congratulations on them here.” The UCI is aware of the problem and they have acted on their own…”
“That said, there will always be people who don’t follow the rules, but that doesn’t take away from my belief that cycling is more pure than it was 20 years ago.”