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Vuelta a Espana boss calls for Froome salbutamol decision before 2018 race

Joe Robinson
20 Jun 2018

Javier Gullen believes time is complicating proceedings and leaves Spanish race in jeopardy

Joining Mauro Vegni of the Giro d'Italia and Christian Prudhomme of the Tour de France before him, Vuelta a Espana race director Javier Gullen has had his first say on the Chris Froome (Team Sky) salbutamol case, claiming it must be resolved before the start of the 2018 race this August.

Talking to Spanish newspaper Marca, the race director adamantly suggested that a decision must be made prior to the Vuelta's start in Malaga on 25th August stating, 'What I want is to have a resolution.

'What is absolutely necessary is to know who won the 2017 Vuelta for the 2018 Vuelta start.'

Gullen then added on the situation and possibility of Froome defending his title, 'He won the Giro and we do not know what will happen with the rest of the races that he raced.

'I get the feeling that the passing of time complicates matters. I don’t know what we would do, but I do know that the Vuelta must know who won in 2017 before the 2018 race.'

Of course, if a decision is not made on Froome's salbutamol decision before the race start in Malaga and the Team Sky rider does decide to defend his title it is unlikely that Gullen and the Vuelta would block him doing so.

However, it does put the race into a moral predicament. 

Many called for Froome to be absent from the recent Giro, a race he ended up winning, with others also calling for organisers to block his presence.

These same people have echoed this opinion across to next month's Tour de France.

Technically, a race does have the power to stop Froome's participation but fundamentally the rider is breaking no rules by currently riding and winning races, something permitted by the UCI.

For the Vuelta to block its defending champion's entry would be an astonishing move. 

Gullen continued his complaints to Marca then reiterating the importance of a resolution for the sake of not just the races he enters but the rider and team itself.

'Time is not helping us,' Gullen said. 'The winner of the Vuelta should have known at the end of 2017 and this was no the case. He should have been known before the Giro d’Italia, but no.

'I hope that it is known before the Tour de France,' Gullen said. 'I don’t have any information on what will happen. It is a topic that should be resolved for the good of the Tour, for the sake of Sky, but above all for the good of cycling in general.

'The Tour is the most important event, it reaches many millions of fans and I think we all deserve to have a resolution.'

Gullen's confusion around the 2017 Vuelta comes as no surprise. It is still unclear as to whether Froome could be stripped of his Vuelta title if the findings are upheld or whether the ban would start from the date of sentencing, allowing Froome to keep his Vuelta and Giro titles.

Regardless, the four-time Tour champion is gearing up for a fifth yellow jersey next month as he and his team continue to fight the adverse analytical finding for salbutamol.