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Giro race director calls for Froome solution as rider prepares new defence

Joe Robinson
16 Jan 2018

Mauro Vegni wants Froome decision before Giro d'Italia as rider looks to blame kidney malfunction for adverse findings

Giro d'Italia race director Mauro Vegni has called for a swift resolution to the Chris Froome salbutamol case, stating that it is now in the hands of the UCI to produce a clear conclusion.

As part of a special report on the Froome case in L'Equipe, Vegni called for clarification on the matter followed by a swift resolution in order to maintain credibility within the sport.

Speaking on the case, Vegni said, 'We were really happy that Froome was going to ride our race. Now we have to hope that everything will be quickly clarified, for Froome, for the interests of the Giro and for cycling in general.

'This time Froome's case emerged in September 2017. And the Giro starts in May 2018. That means there are eight months to find a solution.

'I want to believe that's enough time, otherwise, we have to despair about our ability to run our sport.'

The outspoken comments of Vegni come in a bid to spare further embarrassment for the race which he organises. In 2011, Alberto Contador won the Giro while under investigation for a positive test for clenbuterol at the Tour de France the year before.

Contador was eventually handed a ban in 2012 backdated to 2011, seeing the Spaniard stripped of his Giro title. This potential deja-vu is something the Vegni is trying desperately to avoid.

'I hope we'll soon have a final result but whatever happens, we can't accept a compromise solution as with Alberto Contador in 2011, where his win was cancelled from the record books for a positive test that happened in another race.'

Beyond the interview with Vegni, L'Equipe also suggested that Froome and Team Sky would be taking an alternative route in order to clear his name.

It is said that Froome - who has employed Mike Morgan, a lawyer who has previously defended Alberto Contador and Johan Bruyneel - will be attempting to argue that the adverse finding of salbutamol in his system was produced by an obscure kidney condition.

After having originally explored the possible defence of dehydration, it is now thought that the British rider and a team of legal and scientific experts will suggest this elevated reading from Stage 18 of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana was the outcome of a kidney problem which failed in releasing the substance from his body correctly.

It will eventually fall upon the UCI Legal Anti-Doing Services (LADS) to decide on whether the rider should be cleared or face a ban.

LADS are thought to have already brought in specialists to review this potential defence yet claim they are yet to receive any information from Froome or Team Sky.

Froome's sentence, if the test results are upheld, could be that of a two-year ban from all competition.

Diego Ulissi (UAE-Team Emirates) was handed a nine-month ban for salbutamol in 2014 yet admitted returning an adverse test as his own fault.

Froome has chosen to contest the findings which will lead to a tougher sanction if he cannot clear his name. That sanction could total two years.

The four-time Tour de France champion will then have the chance to appeal any decision to the UCI anti-doping tribunal and then the Court for Arbitration for Sport.