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Team Sky respond to Hinault's Froome comments

As Chris Froome looks to equal Bernard Hinault's Tour record, the Badger has his say on the current situation

Bernard Hinault crash scars
Joe Robinson
21 Jun 2018

Outspoken five-time Tour de France champion Bernard Hinault has suggested the peloton should go on strike if Chris Froome starts the Tour de France with uncertainty over his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol still looming over his head.

The UCI is currently investigating Froome after the Team Sky rider tested positive for the controlled substance during last year's Vuelta a Espana, which he went on to win. 

In an interview with French media outlet Ouest Francethe man often referred to as 'the Badger' commented: 'The peloton has to dismount and go on strike, saying "If he is at the start, we do not leave!"'

Under current rules, Froome is completely within his rights to continue racing while the investigation is ongoing since the test was for a controlled substance rather than a banned one.

However, Hinault compared the case of Froome to now-retired Alberto Contador who himself served a suspension for clenbuterol and was subsequently stripped of his 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d'Italia title.

'For me, Christopher Froome must not be at the start of the Tour. He has been tested positive, so for me it is not an abnormal control! We condemned Contador for the same thing, he took a suspension, and he [Froome] would have nothing?' Hinault asked.

'At some point, you have to stop ... As always, the UCI does not know how or when to make the decision. The UCI people should have said, "you have been caught so you stay at home".

Team Sky have since responded to Hinault's comments calling them 'irresponsible and ill-informed'. 

The team also reitereated Froome's right to race and that both they and the rider are following all the necessary processes in place to clear his name.

'It is disappointing that Bernard Hinault has, once again, repeated factually incorrect comments about a case he clearly does not understand,' a spokesman stated.

'His comments are irresponsible and ill-informed. Chris has not had a positive test, rather an adverse analytical finding for a prescribed asthma medication. As an ex-rider himself, Bernard will appreciate the need for fairness for each and every athlete. And at the current time, Chris is entitled to race.'

The statement then ended by stating, 'both Chris and the team are following the process that has been put in place by the UCI. It is clearly a difficult situation which no one wants resolved more quickly than Chris and the team'

Hinault's comments tell of the growing frustration that has built around Froome and the ongoing saga. 

Vuelta a Espana organiser Javier Gullen also spoke out about the investigation this week, commenting, 'The winner of the Vuelta should have known at the end of 2017, and this was not the case.'

'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.'

Currently, the investigation is believed to be in the hands of the UCI who are currently working through the extensive evidence presented by Froome, Team Sky and their team of lawyers. UCI president David Lappartient has reportedly been presented with over 1,500 pages of evidence.

Froome has continued to ride in the meantime, recently winning the Giro d'Italia. He is expected to take to the start line of the Tour next month in the Vendee region as he hunts a record-equalling fifth Grand Tour, equalling none other than Hinault himself.