Froome’s legal team convinced World Anti-Doping Agency experts that excessive levels of the asthma drug Salbutamol found in his system during the 2017 Vuelta a Espana were produced within Wada’s rules on permitted dosage.
Wiggins, Froome’s former Team Sky teammate with whom he has historically shared a fractious relationship, believes the integrity of Wada’s regulations around “selected substances” – those which are permitted up to a certain dosage for medical reasons – has been eroded.
Asked on The Bradley Wiggins Show podcast whether Wada’s rules are fit for purpose, he replied: “Apparently not. Apparently it hasn’t been for a while, there’s so many people coming out and giving their opinions and it’s really difficult to get to the roots of what the actual facts are. The only thing I can really understand from it was that Chris didn’t even go to the adverse analytical finding, it didn’t even get to that stage.
“He has the financial resource. There was criticism of this, but if he’s innocent or he believes his innocent, he’s going to throw everything can at it to clear his name and he has every right to do that. The Team have trusted and backed him as they knew he hadn’t done anything wrong ... He’s now set a precedent, so if the same salbutamol issue comes up with someone else in the Tour de France, he’s shown he can undermine the test.”
The story of Froome’s adverse test was first published in Le Monde and the Guardian in December, and Wiggins believes it should never have come into the public domain.
“Without the leak we wouldn’t even know about it, but that’s the nature of sport now. But had it not been Chris Froome there wouldn’t have been a leak. I think someone saw an opportunity, one of the big organisations, one of the big parties in this case, maybe did it to get one over of someone else, and it’s overshadowed the sport all year, but he’s in the race now and he’s in a chance to win his fifth Tour de France.
“Earlier in the year I thought it might affect him but he’s managed to remain dignified and rise above it, with an historic Giro and for me is still a favourite to win the Tour de France.”
Froome began the Tour as the favourite but crashed on the opening stage, giving up more than a minute to the yellow jersey. Following stage three – a team trial which could see Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas assume the overall race lead – Wiggins says Team Sky will have a decision to make over which rider they prioritise.
“To come off the Giro and into the Tour is very difficult, it’s been shown in the past by other riders,” he said. “It takes a lot out of you both physically and mentally, but Chris is a special athlete and he can cope with that so he’ll be a favourite. But Geraint Thomas will also be there, he’s shown he’s capable of winning the Tour.
“Team Sky have to make a decision, do they protect Geraint who could be in yellow after the Team Time trial, or do they find a way to get Froome back in the race. Right now I think the focus will all be on Chris.”
Watch every minute of the Tour de France live and on-demand on the Eurosport Player, with six additional camera feeds and uninterrupted, ad-free coverage. Visit www.eurosportplayer.com to sign up for your free seven-day trial now.
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