I’ve been riding bicycles since I was 5 years old. In 1966 I became a fan of bicycle racing when a group of professional road racers came to an event in my home town. I was 12 years old at the time and it changed my life. I dreamed of becoming a professional bike racer but sadly lacked the necessary talent. I still read every article on racing I can find, watch all the big races on TV, and Breaking Away is still my favorite cycling movie. That said, I have been disappointed like most fans by the doping scandals that have plagued the sport I love. I know other sports have problems too but it’s cycling that’s important to me. I’m convinced there are riders out there that are racing “clean”, but still some continue to be caught with prohibited substances in their systems. Most recently, Chris Froome returned an adverse analytical finding for Salbutamol. I don’t know much about this drug or anything really about Chris Froome other than what I read. But it amazes me that so many professional bike racers are using inhalers, so I did a little research on the internet (take that for what it is).
What I found was that cycling experts commenting on the possible abuse of asthma medications tend to focus on inhalers specifically, not the pills or injections, and report pro racers need inhalers because cycling induces asthma. It all sounded pretty innocent and harmless really. There were a few articles reporting that inhalers were still doping, but without any real weight to their claim. But then I came across an article from PVCycling that cast a new light on the reason athletes might use asthma medications. If the article is right, it makes me think that the “conspiracy” in cycling to use performance enhancing drugs still exists. The article suggests that focusing on inhalers in the coverage of Chris Froome’s adverse analytical finding is just a smoke screen. It goes on to layout a pretty weighty argument about Salbutamol abuse. I don’t have any ill will for Chris Froome, and hope he is able to prove that everything is on the up and up. But I also want the sport I love, and want my son to love, to be free of organized deceit and cheating. So I’m hoping that the investigation into this situation is thorough and transparent and at it’s conclusion there are no lingering questions or doubts.
UPDATE: Since I posted this there has been more activity on the problems surrounding Chris Froome’s use of Salbutamol and the use of inhalers in general. Here is a link to a video by Bob Roll and a Katie Compton interview by Cyclingnews. Both of these professional cyclists pretty much express the same concerns I have and I appreciate their weighing in on this case.