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UCI President suggests that it might take a year for Froome salbutamol case to be resolved

David Lappartient has given his latest thoughts on the continuing situation around Chris Froome's adverse analytical finding

Jamie Finch-Penninger
22 Jan 2018

UCI President David Lappartient has suggested that it might take up to a year for the Chris Froome salbutamol situation to be resolved. He went on to claim that the actions of Team Sky were damaging the sport.

In the ongoing saga, Lappartient has been strident in his recent criticism of Team Sky's reaction to the case. He suggested in an interview with L'Equipe that Sky should adopt a similar policy to the voluntary organisation, MPCC and suspend Froome from racing until the situation is resolved.

When the UCI President was asked by a reporter whether the actions of Team Sky were damaging the sport, the Frenchman was unequivocal.

'What do you think? Of course, yes,' he said. 'When this happened you could see in the newspapers and the internet, that cycling was going back to its past.

'I saw one newspaper from Brittany and the first page was Froome. And this wasn't a sports newspaper and that was the same in many countries.

'It's bad for cycling but as I've said, we've also got to be careful because Froome has the opportunity to defend his position. However, this is bad for the image of cycling,' he added.

It is a situation reminiscent of the Alberto Contador clenbuterol scenario back in the 2010 Tour de France, where it took more than a year and a half to confirm the Spaniard's ban and all the subsequent race victories were vacated.

Contador’s victories at the Vuelta a Murcia, Volta a Catalunya and the Giro d’Italia were included in the nullifications, heavily effecting the next season of racing.

It also left Andy Schleck (Tour de France, 2010) and Michele Scarponi (Giro d’Italia, 2011) as Grand Tour winners in the history books, but left them without the chance to climb onto the top step of the podium and receive the plaudits of the fans.

Lappartient flagged a similarly drawn out timeline for the Froome situation, but was hopeful that it could be resolved as quickly as possible.

'I don't know how long it will take for this. I hope it will be solved as soon as possible, for all of us, for cycling.

'The different pressures and the possibility to have appeals and everything, I don't know, maybe this can be one year. I hope less but it depends,' he said.

'When you have a specified substance like salbutamol it is a positive test but it is his job to prove with experts that it is a specific situation. This is what he is doing now and I don't know what is happening with the experts.'

Froome’s legal and medical experts are currently preparing to defend the four-time Tour de France winner while he prepares to race a full season of racing, including an attempt at the Giro-Tour double, just like Contador in 2011.

The spectre of Froome continuing to race whilst under threat of having his results nullified isn't something that Lappartient approves of.

'This is bad for the rider, bad for the UCI, bad for cycling and the image of the sport,' he stated.

'I cannot force them [Team Sky], with the rules he has the right to ride. It is up for them to decide.

'If he wins some races in the middle and is sanctioned after, this can be bad for cycling and I think it would be better for Sky to avoid any specific problem and to decrease the pressure by having him not riding at the moment.'

Reiterating the situation, Lappartient added, 'It's possible he could be riding the Tour. It's possible he could be sanctioned after. That's happened.'

When a reporter suggested that this would be a 'crazy' situation, Lapartient agreed but highlighted that the race organisers [the race promoters of the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, respectively RCS and ASO] might choose to refuse Froome's entry.

'It's down to RCS and ASO. I know that some organisers, in their rules, in case that there are problems with the image of their race, they can propose to refuse. That could go to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport).

Asked if he would support RCS or ASO should it come to that, he said, 'I think so.'

'I think that the best thing for him is not to ride. If RCS go in this direction, I can only agree.'

It appears unlikely currently that RCS will refuse to invite Froome after the list of wildcards for the race already included doping controversy with the presence Bardiani-CSF.

The previous year’s edition of the Italian Grand Tour was marred before it even started as two riders named to the Italian ProContinental squad were excluded for doping.

Lappartient was also keen to take some positive steps to avoid the problem of the grey-area surrounding specified substances in the future.

He mentioned his conversations on the topic with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Craig Reedie on the subject.

'I spoke with WADA on this. I spoke with Craig about this, about corticosteroid, about Tramadol, about everything. I have to say he was really open to discuss with the UCI on this.

'They trust the UCI, they know what we are doing in the fight against doping. So they know that when we propose something it is for the good of the sport.

'We must take some lessons for this. For example, do we need to have future provisional suspensions for specified substances

'This is on the table, but only for some strong substances at the moment,' Lappartient concluded.

It is clear that the UCI President is unhappy with the current rules. Highlighting a possible change to those rules and hinting that other parties would be supported by the UCI if they took the problem out of his hands, Lappartient is clearly hoping a situation where headlines about the Froome situation are not a constant for the next year of racing.