LONDON, United Kingdom, Jan 30 – Chris Froome on Tuesday strongly denied a newspaper report that he is seeking to negotiate a short ban rather than fight to prove his innocence over an adverse doping test after winning last year’s Vuelta a Espana.
A report in Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera on Monday said Froome was ready to admit negligence in the case and that his wife Michelle had hired a mediator as the rider looked to negotiate a shorter ban with the UCI.
The report said Froome would accept a ban that would allow him to race this year’s Giro d’Italia and Tour de France as planned, rather than risk taking tests but failing to prove his case, which would expose him to a much longer suspension.
However, in a tweet on Tuesday, Froome said: “I have seen the report in Corriere della Serra this morning – it’s completely untrue.”
Froome and his Team Sky revealed in December that the 32-year-old had tested for elevated levels of the asthma medication salbutamol during the Vuelta, which he won for the first time in September.
Although salbutamol is permitted in certain doses, the four-time Tour de France winner gave a urine reading of twice the allowed limit.
However, as the medication can be taken legally, Froome was not suspended by cycling’s governing body the UCI but merely asked to explain the elevated reading.
It is understood that Froome and his team are still examining the variables that may have caused the adverse result. Froome remains adamant he did not exceed the dosage and plans to demonstrate that to cycling authorities.
That process could be a lengthy one, however, and as Froome has not been suspended either by the UCI or his team, concerns have been raised by rival riders about the prospect of Froome racing this season while still under the threat of a future ban.
Froome has been training in South Africa, and on Sunday posted the details of a huge ride on social media under the header “Empty the Tank”.
In an interview with France-Info radio station, UCI chief David Lappartient said that while Froome “has every right to ride”, he should refrain from doing so while the while the probe is still ongoing.
“If the investigation leads to punishment (for Froome), we could potentially have results being cancelled,” Lappartient said.
That would be a nightmare for the organisers of the Giro d’Italia, who do not want to see a repeat of what happened with Spanish rider Alberto Contador, who won the 2011 Giro in the aftermath of testing positive for clenbuterol in 2010, only to then be stripped of that title and his 2010 Tour de France win.