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Mathieu Van Der Poel and Greg LeMond round on Chris Froome

Suspension of Froome and criticism of the UCI and Team Sky were on the agenda

Greg Lemond Chris Froome
Joe Robinson
4 Jan 2018

Two new opinions have surfaced regarding the Chris Froome salbutamol case from opposite sides of the cycling world but both have reached similar conclusions.

Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond and European cyclocross champion Mathieu Van Der Poel have both called for the suspension of Froome due to his adverse analytical finding for the asthma drug at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana.

Both were highly critical in their conclusions, with LeMond arguably providing a devastating opinion.

The American did not only attack Froome's reasoning for a high level of Salbutamol in his system but also Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford, labelling him 'secretive'.

In an interview with The Times, LeMond stated that Froome's potential argument of inhaling too many puffs of the asthma drug to prevent coughing during TV interviews was 'the most ridiculous excuse' he had heard.

He then turned his attentions to Brailsford stating, 'I don’t believe in Dave Brailsford. He’s secretive, he skirts around questions, and from what I read and hear, the team is not as scientific and as knowledgeable as they claim to be.'

After calling for these Froome findings to be considered in the context of the fellow controversies surrounding Team Sky, including the Wiggins jiffy bag investigation, LeMond then states, 'as history has shown, when things are too good to be true, they usually are.'

Somewhat echoing LeMond, Van Der Poel has also come down hard on the Chris Froome saga stating that the four-time Tour de France winner should be suspended for his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol.

When asked what should come from the Froome case, the Dutchman replied 'suspensions'. He then continued by claiming that Froome's findings were 'a positive test' in his opinion and that the outcome should be a forgone conclusion.

'If you have 2,000 nanograms of salbutamol per millilitre of urine instead of the permissible 1,000 nanograms, I do not think I need to talk about it anymore.'

The current European cyclocross champion expressed this opinion while being interviewed by Dutch television programme EenVandaag, continuing by stating that 'maybe asthma patients will believe Froome, but this is just stupid, and cycling is a sport for healthy people.'

Froome returned an adverse analytical finding for salbutamol while on his way to winning the 2017 Vuelta a Espana. The rider returned results double the legal limit allowed by WADA for the drug commonly used for asthma.

Froome and Team Sky are now believed to be gathering evidence via a controlled pharmacokinetic study in order to prove that the high levels of salbutamol were due to a unique physiology. 

Beyond Froome, the former cyclocross World Champion then turned his harsh criticisms to the UCI and the grey area surrounding medication that is permitted up until a certain threshold.

'The UCI allows abuse of certain products,' Van Der Poel claimed.

'If you say a product is forbidden, you can not use it, but if you say you can use a product up to a certain amount, then you know that there are people who go over that amount,' he said. 'And that's the fault of the UCI.'

Besides the initial comments of Tony Martin and rescinded comments of Vincenzo Nibali, LeMond's and Van Der Poel's comments are the most outspoken so far of any fellow or former pro on the Froome case.

Previously Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and teammate of Froome, Geraint Thomas, have had their say on the situation but have failed to be a decisive in their opinion.

Although not entirely accurate - Froome did not fail a doping test rather returned a finding of a permitted substance over the legal threshold - Van Der Poel's comments do reflect the concerned opinion of many within the sport regarding the Froome case.

LeMond, who has previously been outspoken on the issue of doping, also represents this opinion albeit in a more potent form.

It seems that for LeMond there is no grey area surrounding Froome, and that what would be best for the sport would be for Froome to 'be punished accordingly.'

Regardless, it is seems increasingly clear that a swift and decisive resolution will be best for Froome, his team and the sport.

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