International Cycling

Froome welcomes crackdown

2013-11-19 18:50
Chris Froome (Getty)

Nairobi - Tour de France champion Chris Froome has welcomed the introduction of tougher penalties for doping, and admitted that he had been personally "hit hard" by accusations he had cheated.

Speaking at the end of a private visit to Kenya, the country of his birth and where he first fell in love with the sport, Froome said cycling was now a much cleaner sport than it was during the notorious Lance Armstrong era.

"It is great that WADA plans to extend the ban from two to four years, and that cycling is being taken as leading the way in the fight in anti-doping," he told reporters.

Last week a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) conference concluded with the adoption of a tougher code featuring longer bans for those who intentionally use performance-enhancing drugs.

"When first-time offenders are given a four-year ban, that's quite serious for a sport when the window is very short. You can only be a professional for 15 years. It is a harsh penalty and that's what we need to see in cycling," Froome said.

Froome said the fall-out from the Armstrong era, when doping in the peloton was rife, meant that cycling was now probably "the cleanest endurance sport there is" because of the sheer amount of out-of-competition tests being carried out.

He admitted he had been "hit hard" when faced with accusations that he was doping, even though he understood such questions were inevitable.

"It was a very difficult time in the Tour De France. Everybody was asking me... and people were saying to me you could be doping," he recounted. "It definitely added stress during the tour."

"That hit me quite hard, but it was something I expected, because post-Lance Armstrong everyone was asking questions about it and I came to accept it, because I knew it came from the past and everyone putting on the yellow jersey could be asked about doping."

Froome, meanwhile, said he was expecting a tough Tour title defence.

"It will be extremely difficult to defend the title, especially after winning it once, a lot of people are looking at me as the favourite and the man to beat and it is going to be really hard," Froome said.

"My main rivals include the Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali, who won the Giro D'Italia this year. He is someone I didn't race a lot this year because he stayed at home to concentrate in his cycling in Italy. He will be coming to challenge in Tour de France next year and he will be a big rival."

"There is also a lot of young talent coming to cycling which is good for the sport. Riders such as Nairo Quintana, the Colombian who came second this year. I believe he will also be really good next year.

"I am confident that if I have the same lead-up to the Tour that I had this year, then I can be confident going into the tour," he said.

"For us in cycling, the Tour de France is the biggest goal. It is the most sought-after victory of our all cycling events. That for me is something I would like to continue doing in the future if I can prepare myself as best as possible to try and challenge year after year for as long as I can."

Read more on:    tdf  |  chris froome  |  cycling

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