ASO reportedly believe they could withstand legal challenge if they prevent Froome from racing the Tour
According to reports from the Press Association, although the Giro d’Italia organiser RCS Sport says that it is powerless to prevent Froome from riding in May, sources at ASO suggest that the Tour organiser has more powers over who is allowed to ride its marquee race, and will not allow Froome to be on the start line in Noirmoutier-en-Île on July 7.
Froome is currently under investigation by anti-doping authorities after giving a urine sample at the 2017 Vuelta a España which was found to contain twice the permitted concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol. Froome has denied breaking anti-doping rules which allow athletes to take a maximum of 800mg of salbutamol per 12 hours, and, with Team Sky‘s backing, has vowed to clear his name.
Due to the nature of the substance, Froome is allowed to continue racing while the investigation is ongoing and is not automatically subject to a provisional suspension.
However ASO believes that a clause in its rules about safeguarding the image of the race will mean that it will be able to see off any potential legal challenge from Froome and Team Sky if it decides to prevent Froome from racing.
Watch: Tour de France route guide 2018
Aside from ASO, the UCI also has the power to suspend Froome from racing. However UCI president David Lappartient has said that this is not something that the sport’s international governing body is considering.
“[Provisionally suspending a rider] for salbutamol has never been done, and we have to respect the rights of Chris Froome. It’s not possible to have a specific treatment for him,” Lappartient said.
“No other international federation has taken this decision for salbutamol. So if we were the only international federation to do this – and just for one rider – I think we would be in the wrong and could badly lose [any potential legal case].”
Froome has maintained his innocence since news of the adverse analytical finding was leaked to the press in mid-December, and intends to race both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, where he will be chasing a historic fifth title, in 2018.
His next race in his preparation for the Giro will be the Tour of the Alps, a five-day stage race which starts on April 16, where he will be hoping for better results than in his first two races of 2018.
Froome’s pursuit of a fifth Tour title and a Giro/Tour double which has not been achieved for 20 years has not gone smoothly so far this year, as he finished 10th in the Ruta del Sol and 34th in Tirreno-Adriatico.