RENNES, France (AFP) — Five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault has called on riders at this year’s race to strike in protest at the presence of “cheat” Chris Froome, who has found himself in the doping spotlight after an adverse test.
Froome was found to have twice the permissible amount of asthma drug Salbutamol in his system during September’s Vuelta a Espana, which he won. Salbutamol’s status as a “specified” substance grants Froome the right to continue racing while anti-doping authorities review his case.
The 33-year-old Briton won May’s Giro d’Italia, becoming the first man to hold all three grand tour titles at once since Hinault in 1983, and he is set to hunt for a fifth Tour de France title this July.
Froome insists he has not broken any rules, but Hinault says he is a cheat and as cycling authorities dither, rider power should now be exerted.
“If the international authorities don’t sanction him it’s up to the other cyclists to shoulder the responsibility,” Hinault told AFP.
“If the racers accept a cheat on the race then that’s their problem!”
Hinault, who has been an outspoken critic of Froome over the past few months, challenged the peloton to strike on the opening day of the 2018 Tour, a ride from Noirmoutier to Fontenay-le-Comte along the Atlantic coast on July 7.
“The peloton should just stop and strike, saying, ‘If he’s on it, we’re not,’” Hinault said.
“The peloton is being too nice. We condemned others, everyone agreed, but him, are you telling me it’s because you call this is an adverse finding (instead of a positive one) this is just not right.”
“Contador payed the price for the same thing, he was suspended, but him (Froome) nothing,” said Hinault said, referencing Alberto Contador’s ban after testing positive for clenbuterol, which also led to the Spaniard being stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title.
“Ventolin might not be much, and maybe its not what made [Froome] win the Vuelta, but the rules are the rules, and they should be applied to everyone.”
UCI president David Lappartient told French regional newspaper Le Telegramme in January Froome’s team should withdraw him.
“Without wishing to comment on the rider’s guilt, it would be easier for everyone,” were Sky to suspend him, Lappartient said.
“It’s up to [Sky manager Dave] Brailsford to take his responsibilities.”