ASO said to be considering blocking Froome from Tour
Chris Froome has made clear that he believes any results gained prior to a final verdict in his salbutamol case will stand. In that light, his aim to go for the win in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France depend on no sanction being handed down prior to those events.
UCI President David Lappartient confirmed again on Wednesday that the governing body is hoping for a decision on the case prior to the Tour, but couldn’t guarantee this would happen. And so, Tour organiser ASO is reportedly considering taking action of its own.
According to Press Association Sport, ASO will refuse to admit Froome to the event if his case has not been concluded. PA cites two senior cycling sources as saying that the French company doesn’t want to let a rider with a potential anti-doping violation compete in the event, and believes that it would win a legal challenge taken by Froome’s lawyers.
ASO is said to be willing to use a regulation safeguarding the image of the race as the mechanism to block the Briton. The rule in question is regulation 28.2, which states in part that:
‘ASO may exclude from the event any team or any of its members [who commit] any other act or deed with is liable to damage the image and/or the reputation of ASO and/or of the event.’
The UCI has a similar rule, but PA Sport states that Lappartient doesn’t want the UCI to resort to its own regulation in this case.
Froome has won the Tour four times and is going for a fifth victory. If he were to ride the race and win, he would join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the riders with five successes in the event.
Speaking on Wednesday, Lappartient said that he hoped a final decision could be made in time for the Tour start.
“It think it will be difficult before the Giro, but I hope before the Tour,” he told journalists in Geneva, Switzerland. “I hope for everybody – for him, for his team, for the fans, for the organisers, for the UCI, to have a decision as soon as possible. We will continue to fulfil our rules, this is what we have to do.”
“Due to the fact that this case is really specific, it is taking more time than we were expecting.”
Asked by a journalist if it is true that Team Sky’s lawyers are still arguing about the process, Lappartient declined to answer. “If I comment on this situation, [others] will jump on the fact that I commented on the affair and I can’t do this,” he said.
Froome previously criticised Lappartient for speaking about the case, suggesting he was wrong to do so publicly. The UCI president responded to this on Wednesday, saying that he didn’t speak about the details of the case itself, but rather commented on the effects it has on the sport.
Asked if the case has got to the point where it is being considered by the UCI’s independent tribunal, he said he couldn’t give specifics of where things are at.
“I cannot express or comment on any details about the situation,” he said. “This would not be in accordance with the WADA Code.”