Cloud hangs over history-seeking Froome at Giro
JERUSALEM – Agence France-Presse
But the 32-year-old Briton is being weighed down by a cloud looming over his continued participation in professional cycling races while waiting for a doping storm to be resolved.
Froome tested positive in September last year for elevated levels of the asthma medication salbutamol, resulting in an adverse analytical finding.
But rather than face a doping suspension, he has been given the opportunity to explain his test result during the Tour of Spain race he won.
The issue has dragged on, with some prominent voices in cycling -- such as world governing body chief David Lappartient -- expressing his belief that Froome should have been suspended by his British team Sky pending an outcome to his case.
Froome and Sky insist the Kenyan-born athlete has done nothing wrong and simply took more puffs on his asthma inhaler than normal on the day he gave the adverse reading.
“I certainly haven’t been charged [with] anything as of yet and I hope to be fully exonerated of any wrongdoing because I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” Froome said last week when Sky announced their Giro line-up.
Tour de France organizers have insisted they want his case resolved before he aims for a record-equaling fifth victory in the world’s most prestigious cycle race in July but there is currently no end in sight to the scandal.
Should he be found guilty of a doping offence, Froome would likely lose his victory in the Tour of Spain and any subsequent results such as a Giro d’Italia success.
But should he win the three-week race around Italy, which starts on May 4 with a time-trial in Jerusalem, he would become the first man since Bernard Hinault 35 years ago to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time and only the third ever to do so - with Belgian great
Eddy Merckx out on his own having won four in a row in the 1970s.
Froome has admitted the whole doping investigation has been “hugely frustrating” because it “is now being played out in the public domain.”