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.
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
"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.
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
"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.
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.
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
"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."