UCI Press Release:
Earlier today, the UCI advised the Luxembourger rider Frank Schleck of an Adverse Analytical Finding (presence of the diuretic Xipamide based on the report from the WADA accredited laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry) in the urine sample collected from him at an in competition test at the Tour de France on 14 July 2012.
Mr. Schleck has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample.
The UCI Anti-Doping Rules do not provide for a provisional suspension given the nature of the substance, which is a specified substance.
However, the UCI is confident that his team will take the necessary steps to enable the Tour de France to continue in serenity and to ensure that their rider has the opportunity to properly prepare his defense in particular within the legal timeline, which allows four days for him to have his B sample analyzed.
Under the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the UCI is unable to provide any additional information at this time.
According to the Radioshack Nissan Trek statement:
Our team attaches great value to transparency. Because of this, we can announce the following as a response to the adverse analytical finding of xipamide in Fränk Schleck’s urine sample of July 14 during the Tour de France.
After being informed by the UCI about the presence of xipamide in the urine sample of Fränk Schleck on July 14, the team has decided to immediately withdraw Fränk Schleck from the Tour de France.
Even though an abnormal A sample does not require these measures, Mr. Schleck and the team believe this is the right thing to do, to ensure the Tour de France can go on in calm and that Fränk Schleck can prepare his defense in accordance with the legal timing to do so.
On the subject of xipamide the team can declare the following: it is not a product that is present in any of the medicine that the team uses and the reason for the presence of xipamide in the urine sample of Mr. Schleck is unclear to the team. Therefore, the team is not able to explain the adverse findings at this point.
However, the team is fully determined to collaborate with the anti-doping agencies in order to resolve the matter.
Why are diuretics banned? According to the British Journal of Pharmacology they are a masking agent for other banned substances and for rapid weightloss:
“Diuretics are drugs that increase the rate of urine flow and sodium excretion to adjust the volume and composition of body fluids. There are several major categories of this drug class and the compounds vary greatly in structure, physicochemical properties, effects on urinary composition and renal haemodynamics, and site and mechanism of action. Diuretics are often abused by athletes to excrete water for rapid weight loss and to mask the presence of other banned substances. Because of their abuse by athletes, diuretics have been included on The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of prohibited substances; the use of diuretics is banned both in competition and out of competition and diuretics are routinely screened for by anti-doping laboratories. This review provides an overview of the pharmacology and toxicology of diuretics and discusses their application in sports. The most common analytical strategies currently followed by the anti-doping laboratories accredited by the WADA are discussed along with the challenges laboratories face for the analysis of this diverse class of drugs.”
Xipamide is classified as a specified substance and does not require a provisional suspension. If you look up “xipamide” the WADA website you won’t find it explicitly mentioned, but it is the active ingredient known as a thiazide-related diuretic. In WADA’s prohibited substances list it does state:
S5. DIURETICS AND OTHER MASKING AGENTS
Masking agents are prohibited. They include:
Diuretics, desmopressin, plasma expanders (e.g. glycerol; intravenous administration of albumin, dextran, hydroxyethyl starch and mannitol), probenecid; and other substances with similar biological effect(s). Local application of felypressin in dental anaesthesia is not prohibited.
Acetazolamide, amiloride, bumetanide, canrenone, chlorthalidone, etacrynic acid, furosemide, indapamide, metolazone, spironolactone, thiazides (e.g. bendroflumethiazide, chlorothiazide, hydrochlorothiazide), triamterene; and other substances with a similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s) (except drospirenone, pamabrom and topical dorzolamide and brinzolamide, which are not prohibited).
Under the category of “specified substances”, it means that Frank Schleck needs to prove he took the drug with no intention of enhancing his own performance.
This isn’t the first time that Schleck has had to answer to anti-doping authorities. In 2008 Schleck was found to have made payments to Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of the 2006 Operación Puerto doping scandal, but the charge was dismissed by the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency.