Chris Froome, four-time winner of the Tour de France, may not participate in the 2018 race, the organizers having challenged him after an “abnormal” doping control.
Britain’s Chris Froome, a four-time winner of the Tour de France, has been challenged by the organizers of the event for the next race starting on Saturday but his absence is far from certain.
“Abnormal” anti-doping control
Less than a week away from Vendée , Froome is still unaware of his fate. Rejected by the organizers of the Tour, who intend to protect their event, the leader of the Sky team depends on the decision of the House of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) of the French Olympic Committee to hear Tuesday and make a decision the next day.
The information revealed Sunday by the newspaper Le Monde was confirmed to AFP by a source close to the file although the organizers (ASO) refused to comment.
The Froome case has been in abeyance since the Brit was warned of an “abnormal” doping control during his victory in the Vuelta last September, because of an excess of salbutamol, an antiasthmatic. It is up to the Anti-Doping Tribunal of the International Cycling Union (UCI) to sanction it or not.
Three arbitrators decide
Pending the decision, Froome is allowed to run due to the nature of the offending substance. He won the Tour of Italy in May, which allows him to aim for a Giro-Tour double that has not been achieved for twenty years, as well as a fourth consecutive success in a grand tour. He also postulates to equal the record of five victories in the Tour held by four riders (Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Indurain).
His presence on the starting line on Saturday is therefore suspended by the decision of three referees, chosen one by Sky, the other by ASO and the third by the French Olympic Committee. The trio has to decide, not on the bottom (doping control), but on the consequences of the presence of Froome in the race.
In the rules of the Tour de France (article 29), the organizers have the opportunity to refuse participation in a team or one of its members have the presence would be likely to undermine the image or reputation of ASO or test “.
The question is coupled with a security problem in view of the contrasting reactions, even hostile, fed by the endless series.
“Hatred towards Sky”
Froome’s lieutenant, Welshman Geraint Thomas, said he “feels that there is more hatred towards Sky”: “The Tour brings together a lot of people, some of whom are ill-intentioned”. However, the safety of Froome, who has complained of having been sprayed with urine in the Mende stage in 2015, can not be guaranteed over the 3,300 kilometers of the race.
In the past, Tour organizers have challenged one or more runners three times. But they have been rejected three times by the authorities (UCI in 1999, TAS in 2006, CAS in 2009).
The confident Sky team
ASO’s decision was welcomed Sunday by Marc Madiot, president of the National Cycling League and boss of the Groupama-FDJ team. “Political, courageous and logical,” told AFP the French manager.
“That does not mean that Froome will not be starting the Tour,” said Madiot. “We are in a legal process, I trust my Anglo-Saxon friends to organize and defend themselves accordingly.”
Sky, who has not yet announced the names of the eight riders selected for the Tour, reacted Sunday to the specialized website cyclingnews: “We are confident that Chris will be on the Tour because we know he has not nothing is wrong.