Team Sky Will Not Suspend Chris Froome During Investigation
Team Sky assured Chris Froome it "will not suspend him from competition despite the advice of the head of cycling’s world governing body," according to Martha Kelner of the London GUARDIAN. Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) President David Lappartient said that the team should suspend the four-time Tour de France winner "while an investigation continues into how he failed a drugs test at the Vuelta a España last September." Team Sky will reportedly "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. Lappartient, who found out about the failed drug test the day after taking over from Brian Cookson as head of the UCI last September, said that he "thinks the case against Froome could last another nine months." He said, "Sky should suspend Froome. Now, it’s not up to me to interfere. Without wishing to comment on the rider’s guilt, it would be easier for everyone [were Sky to suspend him]. It’s up to [Sky Manager Dave] Brailsford to take his responsibilities. Quite apart from that, I think that’s what the other riders want. They’re fed up with the general image." A joint investigation by the Guardian and Le Monde in December revealed a urine test taken by Froome "showed twice the permitted amount of the asthma drug salbutamol in his system." Team Sky and Froome denied breaking any anti-doping rules and are "seeking to provide a legitimate explanation for the failed test" (GUARDIAN, 1/19). In London, Jeremy Whittle reported an "increasingly vocal chorus of disapproval from other high-profile riders," including Grand Tour competitors such as Romain Bardet and Giro d’Italia champion Tom Dumoulin, has "increased the pressure" on Team Sky and the UCI to accelerate the process of presenting Froome’s defense or to withdraw Sky’s leader from competition. Bardet, third in the '17 Tour, said that Froome competing while under suspicion would make a "mockery" of cycling. He said, "It would be a farce." Lappartient said that he understood Bardet's position. He said, "He's saying out loud what everyone is thinking" (LONDON TIMES, 1/19). In London, Lawrence Ostlere reported Lappartient said that he believed Team Sky's policy is "damaging the sport." He said, "Of course, yes. When this happened you could see the newspapers and the internet, that cycling was going back to its past." UCI Road Commission President Tom Van Damme also called on Team Sky to "speed up the case." He said, "Team Sky and Chris Froome urgently need to stand in front of a mirror" (INDEPENDENT, 1/21).