British Cycling chief executive Julia Harrington has criticised the leaking of Chris Froome’s adverse analytical finding for high levels of salbutamol, saying that the case has harmed the reputations of Froome, British Cycling, and cycling as a sport.
Speaking at British Cycling headquarters in Manchester, Harrington said that she was disappointed that news of the anti-doping investigation into Froome had become public knowledge, and that reputations had been tarnished before it had been decided whether Froome had broken any rules.
“While someone is trying to prove either way [like Froome is] it’s being debated in the court of public opinion and of course that’s a blow to cycling’s reputation, the athletes reputation and it’s not a nice situation to deal with,” Harrington said.
“You only need to read the comments below articles to see people will make up their mind without the full evidence, which is a shame.
“I would rather that info hadn’t been leaked so we could deal with a situation where the athlete is banned or a situation where the athlete is able to prove a finding and they can carry on with their career as normal.”
Froome denies exceeding the permitted dosage for salbutamol of 800mg per 12 hours, and must prove that the high concentration of the asthma drug found in his urine after stage 17 of the 2017 Vuelta a España was not as a result of exceeding that dosage.
Salbutamol is classified as a specified substance, meaning that Froome is able to race and is not subject to a provisional suspension while the investigation is ongoing. Under normal circumstances, investigations into adverse analytical findings for specified substances would not be made public unless it was concluded that the rider had broken anti-doping rules and was subject to a ban.
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With Froome still able to compete, Harrington also said that the four-time Tour de France winner is still eligible for selection for the Great Britain squad, although she hoped that the matter would be resolved by the time of the 2018 Road World Championships, which take place in Innsbruck, Austria in September.
“He’s not banned he’s available for selection,” Harrington continued. “There is the option for an athlete to rule himself out of selection under the rules of racing he is available and innocent until proven guilty.
“When we approach a race where we’re looking at selection decisions, we’ll have a choice to make at that point.”