Froome backs embattled Team Sky

Froome stands by Sky despite British government report

LIDO DI CAMAIORE, Italy (VN) — Chris Froome stands by Team Sky, despite a report released Monday saying the squad crossed ethical lines in its preparation for the Tour de France.

Froome, who is dealing with a Salbutamol case of his own, defended Sky ahead of Tirreno-Adriatico, which gets underway Wednesday.

“I’ve never seen anything like that, it’s not my experience within the team, that that’s how the team operates,” Froome said in reference to the unethical practices in the report.

The House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee looked at the use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) in the team. The issue came to light when hacker group Fancy Bears leaked information in September 2016 that showed Bradley Wiggins applied for and received TUEs to use corticosteroid triamcinolone ahead of several events, including the 2012 Tour that he won.

“We believe that this powerful corticosteroid was being used to prepare Bradley Wiggins, and possibly other riders supporting him, for the Tour de France,” said the committee. “The purpose of this was not to treat medical need, but to improve his power to weight ratio ahead of the race.”

Froome said that he was not part of the “other riders” group referred to by the committee.

“No. That’s absolute rubbish,” Froome explained. “I’ve seen that accusation, but no that’s complete rubbish.

“I’ve learned about this though the media, as well. I wasn’t even aware Bradley was using it.”

Froome backed general manager David Brailsford when asked if he should resign from Team Sky, and responded “yes” when asked if the team’s future was solid.

Since last autumn, Froome has dealt with his own problems surrounding asthma drug Salbutamol. He tested for twice the allowed limit on his way to winning the 2017 Vuelta a España. He is free to race — Tirreno-Adriatico will be his second event of 2018 — but risks a possible ban as the case moves ahead.

“That’s part of something I’ve been dealing with over my whole career as a pro cyclist,” he said of the noise around him.

“I’ve come up against adversity, and I’ve learned how to compartmentalize things. Right now I’m here to race Tirreno and I’m focusing on that, and I’m building towards the Giro d’Italia.”

Froome’s case could head to the UCI’s anti-doping tribunal any day now. He risks losing his Vuelta a España title, and possibly any other results from then until the case is decided.

“I spoke about it before at the Ruta del Sol when I began racing, there’s a process for me to follow and a process for me to demonstrate that I’ve not done anything wrong, and that’s exactly what I plan to do,” Froome said.

“These are not easy circumstances. I understand it’s difficult for everyone. It’s not a good situation for the sport, it’s not a good situation for any of us, but we are getting on with it and I’m working hard as I can to get this resolved as fast as possible.”

Froome will face Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), and others in Italy this week.

“I’m here to try [to win]. I understand that this is part of my progression towards the Giro,” Froome said. “It’s one of my preparation races. I don’t feel that I’m at my best yet, I’m working hard towards the Giro d’Italia and I hope to be at my best shape by the start.”