The defending Giro champion hopes the lingering salbutamol case can be resolved before taking to the start line with Chris Froome in May

Giro d’Italia defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) says that it would be the “worst possible solution” if Chris Froome starts in the 2018 edition this May and then receives a suspension after racing to win.

The Dutchman won the 2017 edition ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), and is lining up in the Abu Dhabi Tour start on Wednesday to begin his 2018 campaign and building towards a Giro defence.

Team Sky’s Froome announced he would race the Giro d’Italia ahead of the Tour de France this 2018 season. Those plans remain the same even if he is battling an adverse analytical finding for asthma drug salbutamol from the 2017 Vuelta a España.

Froome and Team Sky have denied any wrongdoing.

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“It would be very bad if he starts the Giro without still knowing something and they have to say after the Giro then that he’s suspended,” Dumoulin said. “That would be the worst solution ever.”

Froome’s case is said to be heading to the UCI’s anti-doping tribunal in the coming weeks and if it rules against him, he could be suspended. However, as with the Alberto Contador and Diego Ulissi cases in the past, it may rumble on through the year – and Froome is free to race while it does.

“I don’t think a lot of riders have a different opinion, I think they agree that it’s not good for cycling that this case is lingering on and there’s not a solution,” Dumoulin continued.

“I hope justice prevails, and whatever that may be.

“Everyone wants clarity. I think Froome wants the same. Everyone wants that. The public is asking for that.”

Some including UCI President David Lappartient and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), third in the 2017 Tour behind Froome, say he should not race in this period.

Froome last week began his season in Spain’s Ruta del Sol stage race, where he placed 10th overall and said, “We’re working as hard as we can to try and get [the case] resolved. No one wants this resolved more quickly than I do.”

“I cannot say if he should sit out,” added Dumoulin. “Well, right now, he’s allowed to race. He may do that, but he may also not, but that’s his decision.”

The Giro d’Italia is pushing for a solution from the UCI before the race starts in Jerusalem on May 4. It does not want a situation like in 2011, when Contador won the overall but later was stripped of the title for an anti-doping case from the 2010 Tour.

“We cannot accept a repeat of the Contador case or a trial after the fact,” Giro director Mauro Vegni said this month. “We want a certificate from the UCI that allows the rider to start the Giro.”