Defence based on statistical model showing likelihood of false positives
Speaking to The Times, Froome spoke about the moment he received the official notification that the case against him had been dropped.
“These were severe allegations. For an athlete it doesn’t get much worse. This was a nightmare scenario for any clean athlete. It was challenging to a level I’ve never experienced before,” Froome said.
“It’s been a long process getting to this point but out with Wout [Poels] this morning, our last ride before leaving for the start of the Tour, my phone buzzing off the hook with messages from friends, colleagues, people I’ve known right back to school, I’ve been inundated with people saying they knew the truth would come out eventually and it did.”
According to The Times, Froome’s successful defence was based on demonstrating the likelihood of delivering a false positive for someone taking regular asthma medication.
Legal and scientific teams looked at the varying levels of excretion of salbutamol from Froome’s other urine samples during the Vuelta, and used this to build a statistical model to show the chances of a false positive. This model was then submitted to the UCI which carried out its own tests, discovering that the chances of the current test delivering a false positive was “alarmingly high”.
Froome’s evidence also included submissions from the scientist responsible setting the World Anti-Doping Agency’s limit for salbutamol dosage and the level at which an anti-doping investigation is triggered.
Watch: Tour de France 2018 preview
As well as explaining his relief at receiving the news that the case against him had been dropped, Froome also revealed the moment that he got the phone call from the UCI at the World Championships in Bergen informing him of the investigation.
“It was the phone call I never thought I would ever receive,” the 33-year-old said. “Tim Kerrison was walking around and I told him, ‘I can’t believe what I just heard.’
“You do everything right then this nightmare. I actually felt dizzy. I climbed off and immediately just started googling to learn what I could about salbutamol, about thresholds.”
Froome will now line up for the start of the 2018 Tour de France free from the pressure of having an anti-doping investigation hanging over his head.
On Tuesday Team Sky announced the seven riders who will support Froome in his question to win a fifth Tour de France title, with a strong team of domestiques including Geraint Thomas, Wout Poels, and Michal Kwiatkowski.
The Tour de France starts on Saturday with a 201km stage from Noirmoutier-en-l’Île to Fontenay-le-Comte, which Froome will be hoping to get through without and trouble.