Team Sky’s Dave Brailsford said he believes Chris Froome is “innocent” in what are the team manager’s first comments since the four-time Tour de France winner tested for high levels of Salbutamol.
Speaking to reporters at the Oro y Paz race in Colombia, Brailsford said Froome is “innocent” of wrongdoing in the high-profile case that has rocked cycling.
“For me, there’s no question, he’s done nothing wrong — no question,” Brailsford told reporters. “This situation, it’s difficult. … I believe he’s innocent.”
In September, Froome tested for double the allowed limits of an asthma treatment and could face a ban and be stripped of his Vuelta a España victory.
Brailsford has not spoken publicly since a leak in December revealed Froome’s high levels of Salbutamol. Froome insists he did not go over the allowed dosage of the asthma treatment and has assembled a team of attorneys and experts to defend himself before anti-doping authorities.
Sky has taken heat for not sidelining Froome as his case plays out with the UCI’s anti-doping authorities. Brailsford was keen to point out that there is no anti-doping rule violation for Froome.
“It should still be confidential,” Brailsford said. “It should never have been made public at this point and everyone is entitled to a fair process. That’s why I think, at the minute, the approach we’ve taken is to support him and make sure we do what we can to have a fair process, even though I do understand it’s a very difficult situation for everyone.”
Major rivals and even the UCI president called on Froome to not compete during his review process, but he is scheduled to race next week in Spain at the Ruta del Sol. Froome is hoping to race the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France later this season.
“We want it to be as fast as possible. The longer it is, for us and Chris himself, the more difficult it is,” Brailsford said. “But, equally, it needs to be done correctly and there’s a process.”