Bos cleared to return to racing, states asthma medication caused low cortisol levels
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Bos cleared to return to racing, states asthma medication caused low cortisol levels

by VeloNation Press at 7:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Team wants MPCC to review its policy on health suspensions for riders

Theo BosAfter being unable to start the Vuelta a España due to low levels of cortisol, Theo Bos has been cleared to return to racing by his Belkin Pro Cycling Team, which has said that it has determined the reason for those values.

The team is a member of the MPCC anti-doping movement and it imposes a health check in relation to cortisol levels of riders. The UCI rather than the MPCC carried out the test in question. According to Belkin, the UCI itself would not have blocked him from starting but, as the team adheres to MPCC rules, the reading was enough for Bos to need to take a break from racing.

Under MPCC regulations riders must take a minimum eight day break from competition and can only return when the levels are within the normal range.

The MPCC has made clear that it is a health rule rather than an anti-doping regulation, but its president Roger Legeay told VeloNation recently that many – but not all – of the cases of low cortisol values are due to corticoid use.

“The problem with corticoids is that there are a lot of certificates used to get a better performance,” he said. “Low cortisol is maybe 90 percent due to the use of legal or illegal corticoids. There is a small proportion which may be due to other reasons, we don’t know. That is why it is difficult [to have a clear conclusion].

“We do the cortisol test only for the health as it is very dangerous for riders if it is not a normal level. The MPCC don’t do the test [officially] for anti-doping, that is for WADA and the laboratory. We do it for the health.”

Belkin has stated that it has investigated the cause of the values and come to a conclusion. It said that there was no malicious intent on Bos’ part. “After attending external specialists the team’s medical staff completed the investigation into Bos’ low cortisol levels. The conclusion is that an asthma medication caused the low levels,” it stated.

The investigation was carried out by medical staff of the team plus external specialists. They were pulmonologist Dr. Shelley Overbeek, endocrinologist Dr. Christine Oldenburg and clinical chemist Dr. Douwe de Boer; the latter was part of Alberto Contador’s defence team when he tested positive for Clenbuturol.

They concluded that there hadn’t been an abuse of synthetic corticosteroids, but rather that a scientific test had shown that Bos is ‘extremely responsive’ to the use of the asthma medication he had been prescribed to use by a pulmonologist.

Bos has expressed his satisfaction and said that the team will look for a different asthma medication for him to use.

“I’m very happy and relieved to know the exact reason for my low cortisol levels. When I heard I couldn’t race in Spain, I was really surprised,” he said in a team statement.

“Fortunately, my team-mates and colleagues supported me well. The study’s results provide a clear story. Everything is clarified.”

He will return to competition this Wednesday in Belgium. He said that he has been doing some training and is ready to knuckle down again.

“During the investigation I already started riding my bike now and then. With everything behind me, I can start racing with good feelings,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the GP Houtland and after that the Tour of Beijing.”

The team’s CEO Richard Plugge has said that he is pleased that the medical experts came to a clear conclusion, and that Bos is able to return to competition.

“We missed him as a good colleague and of course, in the last straight metres,” he said.

The team now wants the MPCC to study the cortisol regulation in order to either verify or change its position.

“We have asked the MPCC to settle the international debate regarding the rule with international academic evidence,” he stated. “According to the UCI’s medical commission there’s no consensus between international medical experts on the subject. That’s why the UCI has not adopted the rule. The Dutch Doping Authority questions the rule, as well. Uniformity is of a major importance for cycling’s credibility.”

Bos is a former multiple world track champion. In recent years he has turned his focus to road racing. This season he took a number of victories, including stages in the Tour de Langkawi, the Volta ao Algarve, the Critérium International, the Glava Tour of Norway and the Ster ZLM Toer.


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