Chris Froome has responded to David Lappartient’s assertion that it would be a “disaster” if he were to race the this year’s Tour de France with his doping case unresolved, telling Cyclingnews that the UCI president should voice his concerns directly instead of through the media.
Lappartient was hard hitting in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday. As well as calling for a UCI anti-doping investigation into TUE use by Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky, he said that if Froome competed in the world’s biggest race with the possibility of a ban hanging over him, it would be harmful to the sport’s reputation.
A verdict is still pending on Froome’s adverse analytical finding for salbutamol at last year’s Vuelta España. Since the asthma drug is a ‘specified’ substance on WADA’s prohibited list, the Team Sky rider was not provisionally suspended, but will be banned unless he can convince the authorities that his sample – which showed double the permitted levels of salbutamol – was an anomaly and not caused by exceeding the permitted dosage.
“That would be a disaster for the image of cycling,” Lappartient said of the possibility of the case dragging on into July. “From a legal point of view he has the right to ride, but for the image of our sport, that could be a disaster, and I don’t want to put our sport in trouble.”
After making his season debut at the Ruta del Sol last month, Froome is currently racing at Tirreno-Adriatico, and spoke to Cyclingnews outside the Team Sky bus in Camaiore on the morning of stage 2.
“I saw his comments yesterday and I think what I would say is that I’m doing my best to follow the due process here, in this matter. I get that it’s a difficult situation, this was obviously meant to have been a confidential UCI process but this was made public, so that changes things,” Froome said.
“Given his concern for the reputation of the sport, I think it would be more sensible of him to raise his concerns in person or at least though the right channels as opposed to through the media.
“I’m obviously doing everything I can to get this resolved as quickly as possible, and just trying to keep my head down.”
Asked if he felt this was a case of political posturing on Lappartient’s part, Froome simply responded: “You’d have to ask him that.”
Froome then affirmed that, as he sees it, any eventual ban would commence on the day of the verdict and that any results earned between the Vuelta and the verdict would still stand. Therefore, if the case were to drag on past the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France he could race and possibly win both, safe in the knowledge the results would stand.
“I think that’s what the rules read, yes. I think that’s what the WADA rules state,” Froome said.
“It’s a very different situation to the [Alberto] Contador case,” he added, referring to the Spaniard whose 2012 ban for a clenbuterol positive returned at the 2010 Tour was backdated to 2011, causing him to lose his Giro title from that year.
“I’m racing because the rules say I can race, and any other rider in my position previously has raced.”
The last two professional cyclists to have been issued with bans for salbutamol AAF’s, Diego Ulissi and Alessandro Petacchi, both in fact served periods of time away from racing between their tests and their verdicts, which was factored into their eventual sanctions.
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