London - Chris Froome admitted on Thursday that his adverse
drugs test during his victory at the Vuelta a Espana is "damaging" as
the four-time Tour de France winner battles to clear his name.
The British rider had twice the permissible amount of asthma
medication Salbutamol in his system during the Grand Tour race he won in
Cycling's governing body UCI has asked the Team Sky rider to
provide more information but in line with World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines
has not suspended him.
If Froome fails to provide a satisfactory answer the UCI
could proceed with an anti-doping rule violation case, which could strip him of
his Vuelta victory and result in him missing a large chunk of next season.
"This is damaging. It's come as a huge shock to me as
well," Froome, 32, told Sky Sports.
"At the same time I know within me that fundamentally I
have followed the protocol, I have not overstepped any boundaries and I hope by
the end of this process that will be clear to everyone and I'll be exonerated
of any wrongdoing.
"I can't say what other people are going to think at
the end of this. I can only obviously control my input to the situation."
Team Sky said in a statement on Wednesday that Froome
experienced "acute asthma symptoms" during the final week of the
Vuelta and increased his dosage of Salbutamol, within permissible limits, on
"Coming into the last week of La Vuelta I began to feel
a lot more symptomatic - my asthma was playing up a lot more and that's when
the doctor advised me to increase the number of puffs - obviously staying well
in the legal limit of the maximum allowed number of puffs you can take during
the race," said Froome.
"So we did increase it and that's why we're faced with
this question of 'I did stay within the limits but obviously the test results
show a different reading' so we're trying to evaluate what has happened."
Froome, widely considered the greatest Tour rider of his
generation, is scheduled to race the Giro d'Italia in May 2018 ahead of
defending his Tour de France title in July 2018.
The test raises fresh questions about British cycling
following the scandal surrounding Bradley Wiggins, who received therapeutic use
exemptions (TUEs) to take a corticosteroid in 2011, 2012 and 2013, including
before his 2012 Tour de France win.
Wiggins and Sky have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing,
saying the drug was prescribed to treat a longstanding pollen allergy.