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Team Sky’s star tested over the allowed limit for asthma drug Salbutamol during stage 18 of the 2017 Vuelta a España last summer. He went on to win the title ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). Now, he is taking aim at the Giro d’Italia this May with this week’s Tour of the Alps as preparation.
“As I said from the beginning, this whole process was meant to have been confidential,” Froome said. “That’s no longer the case, but it’s not something I’m going to keep giving a running commentary on, and I don’t feel others should be doing that either.”
Froome finished fifth in the opening stage of Tour of the Alps Monday.
News leaked on December 13 that Froome tested for 2000 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of Salbutamol — over the 1000 ng/ml limit. He stated in years before and also after the test that he suffers from asthma.
After the news came out, he explained, “My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage. As always, I took the greatest care to ensure that I did not use more than the permissible dose.”
Now it is up to the UCI’s anti-doping tribunal to decide. It could let the 32-year-old Brit off the hook or issue him a six-month to two-year suspension. He would also risk losing the Vuelta a España title.
UCI president David Lappartient said that he wants to resolve the case as soon as possible for Froome and the cycling world. In the meantime, due to the governing body’s own rules, Froome may race.
“We are working as quickly as we can to get it resolved,” continued Froome. “Obliviously, I don’t have a timeline to give publicly, but we’re following the process that has been set out to us by the UCI. Hopefully, we’ll have a resolution as soon as possible.”
Froome won the Tour de France four times now and the Vuelta a España for the first time in 2017 after already finishing second three times. He will race the Giro d’Italia for the first time since 2010, and this time he is taking a serious aim at the overall title.
Even with the case brewing in the background, Froome appears relaxed and is following his training program. He raced the Ruta del Sol and Tirreno-Adriatico so far this year. After a Tenerife altitude camp, he returned to mainland Europe for the Tour of the Alps. The five-day race runs from Italy and into Austria. Everything is going to plan, and he intends on racing the Giro and Tour this July despite the ongoing troubles.
“Yeah. That’s the plan,” he said of his presence in the Giro.
“The fans reactions? I’ve raced all over Europe this year and the support I’ve had has been overwhelming. It has been quote touching actually, that people have reached out.
“Like I’ve already said, from the peloton too, the team has been a huge support too. We will hopefully get to the bottom of this as soon as possible.
The Giro begins on May 4 in Israel. And Froome appears as fit as he normally does just two and a half weeks out from the Tour de France. The Tour of the Alps, where Sky teammate Geraint Thomas won the overall last year, will be his final tune-up.
“I feel so much better than Tirreno-Adriatico, my last race, and I am coming here on the heels of a period of altitude training and over this last few days, previewing the Giro stages,” added Froome.
“I have never raced here myself, but at Team Sky, we know very well how beautiful and how demanding this event is. Our success at this race hasn’t converted to as much at the Giro so far, but that doesn’t mean anything to me: I am here to go for a good result.”