Pressure increases on Team Sky to suspend Chris Froome from racing with no end in sight for Salbutamol case

The UCI president David Lappartient, speaking at the Tour Down Under, has said it would be a bad look for cycling were Froome to race while his case remains unresolved

Lawrence Ostlere
Sunday 21 January 2018 12:24
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David Lappartient became UCI president
David Lappartient became UCI president

Pressure is increasing on Team Sky to suspend Chris Froome from competitive racing until his Salbutamol case has been resolved.

Team Sky are still intent on Froome competing in May’s Giro d’Italia, despite the adverse analytical finding (AAF) of excessive levels of the asthma drug Salbutamol found in his system during the 2017 Vuelta a Espana.

Froome’s legal team are preparing to explain these findings to the UCI’s legal anti-doping service, but there is no date in sight for the hearing and it could drag on for many months. Under UCI rules, there is no obligation on a team to impose a provisional suspension on the rider for an AAF.

The Independent understands the case is still in the preliminary stage of assessing potential factors to have caused the test result and kidney malfunction – reported as Froome’s primary line of defence – is only one of a number of factors being examined.

The UCI president David Lappartient said he believed Team Sky’s policy is damaging the sport. “Of course, yes. When this happened you could see the newspapers and the internet, that cycling was going back to its past.

“I saw one newspaper from Brittany and the first page was Froome. And this wasn’t a sports newspaper and that was the same in many countries. It’s bad for cycling but as I’ve said, we also got be careful because Froome has the opportunity to defend his position. However, this is bad for the image of cycling.”

Lappartient added that there was little he or the UCI could do, other than support the Giro and Tour de France organisers should they elect to bar Froome from their race.

“I can’t force them,” he said of Sky’s position. “With the rules they have the right to race him. It’s up to them to decide but if he wins some races then it could be bad if he’s sanctioned after. That is why I think it would be better for them to take off the pressure by having him not riding at the moment.”

The president of the UCI’s road commission, Tom Van Damme, also called on Team Sky to speed up the case. “Team Sky and Chris Froome urgently need to stand in front of a mirror,” he said.

“Whether the UCI has to act faster – the UCI is bound by rules – moral responsibility lies with Team Sky and Froome. They have to stand in front of the mirror, because the longer this takes, the worse for cycling.”

Lappartient was speaking from the Tour Down Under, which was one by South African rider Daryl Impey, the first general classification win of the 33-year-old’s career.

Daryl Impey claimed the Tour Down Under title

He finished with the same time as home favourite Richie Porte – 20hr 03 min 34 sec – but claimed the title thanks to his three second-placed finishes. “Coming in I didn’t expect to win the race, but sometimes the stars line up and things go according to plan,” Impey said.

Andre Greipel won the final stage, a remarkable 18th win at the race, edging out Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan in a sprint on the streets of Adelaide.

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