Patrick Lefevere believes Chris Froome‘s salbutamol case is both sad and damaging for cycling. The long-standing Quick-Step Floors team manager is reluctant to jump to conclusions on the Team Sky rider’s culpability but insists a lack of clarity from the UCI is undermining the credibility of the sport.
“I’m sad. First of all, I’m sad,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews at Quick-Step Floor’s team presentation in Calpe. “Because it’s always cycling. Unfortunately, nobody speaks about 50 per cent of athletes being suspended in athletics, and if you speak about doping in football, it doesn’t exist, never existed, and will never exist.”
Froome returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for salbutamol at the 2017 Vuelta a España, with twice the permitted level of the asthma drug found in his urine in a post-stage 18 test. Given salbutamol is a ‘specified’ substance on WADA’s prohibited list, Froome – who denies exceeding the permitted dosage – has not been provisionally suspended, but must now prove to the anti-doping authorities that his sample could have been skewed by other factors, such as dehydration and the proximity of his dose to his test.
“The rules should be more clear,” argued Lefevere. “I was drinking two red wines, and now one whisky, and if I go out in my car and there’s an alcohol control, I will be positive. If you do the control and they ask, ‘did you drink something?’ ‘Yes, two wines’. OK, you blow, positive. You should have known.
“Then you can say, ‘ah yes, but I’m light, I was sick…’ No, this is the rule, and the rule has to be very clear, because now there are doubts about what he exactly did, the circumstances. Maybe he didn’t drink for the last 30km, dehydration, whatever, I’m not a doctor and I don’t want to be a doctor, but the UCI should be more clear.”
Lefevere speaks as someone for whom a doping controversy has direct and serious consequences. The fragility of cycling’s business model is as well known as its chequered past, and a whiff of scandal can quickly deter prospective investors.
I don’t need the MPCC to behave myself as a good catholic
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