Many are yearning for more details and clarity following the closure of Froome’s controversial and complicated case.
Just days before the start of the Tour de France in the wake of the sport’s most controversial and contentious case in years, everyone is still keeping their cards close to their chest.
“Now I just want to draw a line in the sand and move on,” Froome said Wednesday. “My aim is to win and go for a Giro-Tour double.”
That answer is not going to satisfy everyone.[related title=”More Tour de France news” align=”left” tag=”Tour-de-France”]
For months since Froome’s high salbutamol levels were released via a leak in December, none of the protagonists were willing to speak in detail about the Froome case because it was still under review and perhaps open to litigation.
Now that Froome has been cleared, many are exasperated that the same cloak of silence is seemingly still wrapped tightly around the case.
Officials from WADA, UCI and Team Sky have spoken in interviews and released some details via press releases over the past few days, but there is a sense of frustration that the full story has yet to be revealed.
On Wednesday, Team Sky stonewalled when asked during a pre-Tour press conference if it would release more information related to Froome’s salbutamol case. Instead, Team Sky said it was up to the anti-doping authorities to decide if they want to release information on how they came to the decision to clear Froome.
“We didn’t make the decision. The UCI and WADA made the decision,” said Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford. “The people who’ve made the decision are the experts at WADA and UCI, and they’ve taken all the information they’ve had access to. The shadow of doubt should not exist if we trust in our authorities.”
On Monday in its blockbuster ruling, the UCI under WADA guidance decided to close Froome’s long-running salbutamol case without sanction or disqualification. The two agencies released some data and offered broad outlines behind the rationale of the provocative decision.
Yet many are clamoring for more transparency. In a case that has struck to the core of the legitimacy of the anti-doping institutions, a few press releases and general statements isn’t enough.
One anti-doping expert said it is impossible to make independent conclusions without full submissions from experts and the final UCI and WADA verdict. In other words, without the nitty-gritty details of the Froome case, it’s hard for just about anyone to reach impartial findings.
That detailed information isn’t likely to be revealed, at least not publicly.
Froome said many of the details of the case have already been released and encouraged fans to read what’s available to make up their own minds.
“It’s very complicated data, but it is there nonetheless for people to see,” Froome said. “It’s not easy to understand, but that data is available, and as soon as people understand that, I’d hope to think they’d understand my reasoning to continue racing.”
Team Sky officials said it should be up to WADA and UCI should be the ones to reveal any supporting data or information. The World Anti-Doping Agency countered it’s up to the UCI, the governing body supervising the Froome case. Both agencies have indicated there will not be more detailed data or background material released about Froome’s case.
On Wednesday, UCI president David Lappartient released a video statement explaining more of the cycling federation’s reasons for not moving forward with the Froome case.
“I can understand that for many people it was very long,” Lappartient said. “The case was also very complicated and many explanations were transmitted to the UCI, and we also brought many experts to see the files.”
Lappartient revealed that the final arguments from Froome’s lawyers were received by the UCI on June 4, just days after Froome won the Giro d’Italia. The consultation with WADA was received by the UCI on June 28.
Lappartient said WADA agreed with evidence provided by Froome’s legal team, and suggested that there was not an anti-doping violation. UCI then signed off following its independent review and revealed its decision Monday.
Lappartient also reaffirmed that rules allow a rider to present their side of the story, and in this case, Froome’s legal team provided a satisfactory answer to both WADA and the UCI.
“The fans want to have a clean sport, and they want a decision that Chris Froome is guilty,” Lappartient said. “After the leak in December, for many of them, he was guilty. They were expecting that same decision, but the UCI has to follow the rules, and allow Froome to present his point of view.”
The apparent lack of transparency is leaving many frustrated and in some cases angry about how the Froome case unfolded over the past several months.
“I no longer believe in WADA,” Groupama-FDJ manager Marc Madiot angrily told AFP. “I already had my doubts a few years ago. Many have raised concerns about Tramadol and corticoids, and we are still waiting. I think [Tour director] Christian Prudhomme said it best, ‘All that for this?’”
Part of the reason for the dearth of additional information is that no one is obliged to reveal more information than they already have. Froome’s legal team certainly won’t be offering up more details voluntarily and everyone at Team Sky is keen to put the whole episode behind them on the eve of the most important race of the season.
Neither WADA nor the UCI is required to release additional information. In fact, the norm in these types of cases is to keep the information confidential and private.
There will not be a release of a “Reasoned Decision” similar to what the world saw after the Lance Armstrong case with USADA in 2012. In fact, since the case typically would have been conducted behind closed doors, there are no requirements written into the WADA code for public disclosure of any information at all.