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Report: Tour may deny Froome entry if case unresolved

Australian website news.com.au reports that Tour de France Organizer ASO would exclude Chris Froome from its race if the four-time defending champion’s Salbutamol case is not resolved.

According to the report, two officials confirmed to Press Association Sport that the ASO is prepared to stop the 32-year-old from racing the Tour. A representative from Tour organizer ASO told VeloNews that this report was incorrect and that it is simply hoping that the case is resolved quickly.

ASO has a history of excluding riders and teams from the Tour de France due to suspicion of doping and other controversies. In 2004, ASO barred David Millar, Cedric Vasseur, and Danilo Di Luca from competing in the Tour de France because all three were under investigation for doping; at the time none of the three had recorded an infraction. In 2008, ASO barred the entire Astana team from competing in all of its races, including the Tour de France, due to the team’s recent history with doping.

In 2005, ASO expelled Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, and Francisco Mancebo due to their implication in the Spanish doping investigation Operacion Puerto. 

In 2007, ASO prevented the entire Unibet.com team from competing, claiming that French laws prohibited foreign companies from advertising online gambling companies.

ASO has also stepped back from threats of expulsion. In 2009, ASO tried to prevent Tom Boonen from racing the Tour de France after the Belgian recorded a positive test for cocaine in an out-of-competition control. ASO eventually allowed Boonen to compete. In 2011, it also allowed Alberto Contador to race, despite the Spaniard’s then-ongoing doping case surrounding a positive test for Clenbuterol.

Contador’s 2011 result was eventually erased after he was banned for two years.

ASO’s successful exclusions occurred prior to the creation of the UCI’s WorldTour model. Under the new UCI rulebook, all WorldTour races must accept the participation of all 18 WorldTour teams, as well as all riders who are eligible to compete.

Yet the two sources told news.com.au that ASO has more power over which riders it can allow to compete. The sources said ASO have no intention of letting Froome compete, due to his potential doping violation.

Froome and his British Sky team have consistently denied wrongdoing since the case was leaked in late 2017. An anti-doping test from stage 18 of the Vuelta a España showed that Froome — the eventual Vuelta winner — had twice the legal limit of Salbutamol.

However, as a “specified substance,” his elevated Salbutamol levels did not lead to an automatic ban from competition. Froome has already raced in 2018 at Ruta del Sol and Tirreno-Adriatico. He has confirmed he’ll race Tour of the Alps April 16-20. His ultimate plan is to race both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France this season.

Giro organizers have expressed their displeasure over the unresolved Froome case. However, they have not suggested that they’d exclude Froome from the race, May 4-27.

Read more on news.com.au >>

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