i Editor's Letter: A sportsman with nothing to prove


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Trust, once squandered, struggles to flourish again. We see that  with newspapers – you’re all  reading i, rather than one of our downmarket neighbours on the news stand screeching about  Diana or a health scare.

Chris Froome’s victory in the 100th Tour de France, the first after the defenestration of a certain Texan, is not “just” a sports story – it’s a tale of belief, the budding of hope, where deception had scorched public faith and goodwill.

Froome has been on public trial in France these past three weeks, persistently asked whether he is clean from drugs, each time he broke his rivals in the mountains. That’s Lance Armstrong’s carcinogenic legacy: the need to prove a negative.

French journalists are keen to over-compensate, naturally, since it took an Irishman working for an English paper owned by an Australian 13 lonely years to prove Armstrong a crook and a bully. (Seven Deadly Sins, the book by that reporter, David Walsh, is a devastating chronicle of greed.)

The Scottish rider David  Millar, banned for doping in 2004, had it about right when he said of Froome: “The press are sceptical and that’s understandable. They have been fooled so often by false stars who lied to them. But they are mistaken. In 15 years’ time they will look back at their views and will say: ‘Christ, we were  horrible to Chris.’ ”

Froome’s triomphe is a tonic for the sport, which needs new champions. He’s the cycling nut who told his teachers he wanted to ride in the Tour; who broke his collarbone in a crash and was back in the gym four days later. Hooray for him, for hard work, the pursuit of excellence, and a blow to cynicism.


Twitter.com: @olyduff