CHARTRES, France (VN) — Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere is fuming over the negative fallout from the Chris Froome case.
The longtime team manager said cycling’s powers-that-be bungled the case from the beginning and left the sport with more egg on its face.
“We are specialists in cycling,” Lefevere grumbled. “We love to shoot ourselves in the feet.”
When VeloNews asked Lefevere if he was in the mood to talk about Froome’s controversial Salbutamol case, he replied, “with pleasure.”
The Belgian wasn’t in good spirits about the larger implications for the case, however, and suggested professional cycling will pay collateral damage for what’s yet another blow to the image of the sport.
“I am looking for sponsors, and I can tell you, it’s not a good look for cycling,” Lefevere said. “I am cycling owner, and I go looking for sponsors, and people ask me, what is this? Four-time winner of the Tour, suspect? The other guy, Wiggins, there is a lot of mystery around it. And the American guy? Seven times gone! You can close your book.”
Lefevere said he didn’t know if Froome was guilty or innocent, but said the Sky captain at least deserved his chance to make his case.
“I am not a fan of Froome and I am not an enemy of Froome. I am neutral, but I think everybody has a right to defend himself,” Lefevere continued. “Some ‘smart’ person made it necessary to destroy the image of cycling.”
A media leak in December revealed insider details of a process that, at least under WADA rules, was supposed to remain confidential. Cycling’s image took a beating as the Froome case played out in the public eye, and Lefevere said too many people were too quick to make up their minds.
“It is a shame for cycling,” Lefevere continued. “How can you judge somebody before the court? After the leak, Froome was already on the cross before he could defend himself. It took some months to prove his innocence.”
Just days before the start of the Tour, the UCI under WADA recommendations decided to close the case without sanction.
The Froome scandal cast a pall over the Tour, the anti-doping process and delivered another blow to cycling’s already tattered image.
“Everybody who ‘blames’ in this case too early should be ashamed,” he said. “Whoever leaked this should be up on a cross.”