Team Sky refuse to suspend Chris Froome as the Pressure Mounts
Team Sky have assured Chris Froome they will not suspend him from competition despite the advice of the head of cycling’s world governing body. Other riders have expressed outrage that Froome will continue to ride, damaging the already battered image of the sport
Team Sky will still enter Froome for the Giro d’Italia and this year’s Tour de France as planned, unless any anti-doping rule violation is brought against the 32-year-old before then.
The four-time Tour de France winner, who denies breaking any rules, could be stripped of his Vuelta a Espana title and face a ban of up to two years.
Froome returned a AAF, Adverse Analytical Finding after a urine test he took during the Vuelta a Espana in September, showed excessive levels of Salbutamol.
Salbutamol is permitted as a legal asthma drug by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the UCI said Froome’s failed urine test did not necessitate a mandatory provisional suspension even if analysis of his urine sample showed a concentration of 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml), double WADA’s threshold on both his A and B samples.
“Team Sky should suspend Froome,” Lappartient told daily Le Telegramme.
“However, it is not up to me to interfere. Without going into the question of guilt, it would be simpler for everyone,” said the Frenchman, who was elected last September.
“It’s up to the team manager, Dave Brailsford to take responsibility. Apart from that I think that it is what the other riders wish.”
Lappartient, who said he was notified of Froome’s test result an hour after being elected in Bergen, Norway, on September 21st last year, believes that “in the eyes of the wider public, the British rider is already guilty.”
Frenchman Romain Bardet, who finished on the Tour podium in the last two editions, said earlier this week that Froome should pull out of racing until the case is over.
The affair, however, is likely to drag on, according to Lappartient, “It’s going to be a long judicial battle. It could last at least a year,” he said.
Other professional riders have argued that it's impossible to get double the amount of Salbutamol into your bloodstream from an inhaler, with other riders speculating that Froome could have been given a intramuscular injection or taken tablets orally.
“I recognize the right of riders to express their opinions,” Lappartient continued. “They are worried and want a clean sport. It’s good, and there is no special treatment for Froome."
It's up to Team Sky and Froome to prove their innocence, and if they fail his ban is more likely to be at least 2 years, effectively ending his career. Froome's lawyers are going for a high risk strategy, aiming to prove Froome's kidneys failed to work properly.
In the meantime, Froome is continuing training as normal, however the pressure is mounting for some sort of resolution before the Grand Tours take place.
Floyd Landis Launches Scathing attack on Team Sky's "Marginal Gains"
Floyd Landis has no doubt it will lead to a ban. “There is evidence that salbutamol can be performance enhancing if it’s used orally or intramuscularly,” he said. “It’s very difficult to get to the level Chris Froome showed by using an inhaler. If that will form his excuse I think it’s nonsense and I don’t think many buy it. He’s trying to defend himself because he has everything to lose. I feel sympathy for him but if he doesn’t face it now he will have to later.”
Team Sky were founded after decades of doping left the reputation of the sport in tatters but doubts have formed around Dave Brailsford’s team after Froome’s failed test, which came to light.
They were already fighting scepticism inflicted by the mystery of a bag delivered to Bradley Wiggins at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2011 and more recently with claims by the former Team Sky coach Shane Sutton that he viewed therapeutic use exemptions as a legitimate means to “find a gain”. There was also an alleged delivery of banned testosterone patches to the Manchester velodrome addressed to Dr Richard Freeman, who was employed by Team Sky in 2011, which the medic claimed was sent by a supplier in error.
Landis does not conceal his amusement. “Sometimes random or coincidental things happen but I’ve got to be honest,” he said, laughing. “I find it very hard to believe a package of testosterone was accidentally mailed to a velodrome. “We can take from what Shane has said they were at least pushing the limit with certain things. Now, with Froome’s failed test, if you take all those things together, there’s no defending that team. Any reasonable person would have more questions."