Giro d’Italia director Mauro Vegni can’t afford to have a repeat of 2011.
Seven seasons ago, Alberto Contador raced the Giro and won by more than six minutes. The trouble was, the UCI was in the process of investigating him for an anti-doping violation stemming from the 2010 Tour de France. After the fact, he was banned from racing and his results were stripped, including that pink jersey.
Now, Vegni is concerned that Chris Froome’s Salbutamol scandal will lead to another crisis for the Italian tour.
Froome had been welcomed to start the 2018 Giro with fanfare in November 2017, but that news quickly soured when his adverse analytical finding was leaked to the press.
On Thursday, Italian website ANSA reported that Vegni had called on the UCI for guidance in the matter.
When his race begins May 4 in Israel, he wants to be confident that the riders who start — namely Froome — won’t be suspended and have their results stripped after the fact. He even went so far as to ask for a “certificate” to guarantee bona fide results.
“We certainly can’t accept a repeat of the Contador case or a trial after the fact,” Vegni said.
He isn’t the only top cycling official sounding off on the Froome fiasco. UCI president David Lappartient has said that he feels Team Sky should voluntarily suspend the four-time Tour champion until the case is resolved.
“Sky should suspend Froome,” Lappartient told French regional newspaper Le Telegramme. “Now, it’s not up to me to interfere. Without wishing to comment on the rider’s guilt, it would be easier for everyone [were Sky to suspend him].”
The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) has voiced similar concerns, although Sky is not part of that voluntary teams organization.
At this point, Froome’s path to resolving the case is unclear.
Initially, experts expected him to undertake a pharmacokinetic study to reproduce the elevated levels of Salbutamol found in the anti-doping sample taken at stage 19 of the Vuelta a España. Then, there were rumors that Froome would cite kidney malfunction as the cause of the adverse analytical finding. Most recently, news outlets reported that he would consider taking a plea bargain, although Froome flatly denied it.
Regardless, the next three months until the start of the Giro will surely be nerve-wracking for Vegni and his race, that is unless the UCI comes to a decision on the matter.