Mauro Vegni says there is no chance Froome could lose the Giro title if he is found guilty in his salbutamol case
Mauro Vegni wants to avoid a situation were Froome could be given a retroactive ban and have any Giro d’Italia result stripped. He spoke with UCI president David Lappartient in March for clarity about the situation.
“I spoke with the UCI president, but he assured me that nothing will be known either before the Giro or before the Tour,” Vegni said.
“I reiterated that if Froome wins the Giro, the Giro title will stay his. What I said to David Lappartient is that because of the lengthy time of justice, any disqualification should be effective only from the judgement date.
“So, if it comes after the Giro, then it will start from after the Giro and not be retroactive.”
Froome will face an anti-doping tribunal for a 2017 Vuelta a España control. He tested for double the allowed amount of asthma drug salbutamol on his way to the overall title.
He explained that he is convinced that the judge will rule in his favour. If not, Froome could lose the Vuelta title and risk a two-year ban. Those close to the case say that because Froome is delaying the case while collecting supporting evidence that any ban would likely not be back-dated.
Concerned, Vegni spoke to Lappartient before RCS Sport’s Milan-San Remo race in March.
“I explained that these cases are becoming excessively long for many reasons. Imagine an athlete who starts the Giro trying to win but knows he could lose the eventual title. It is not correct for him, for the organisers and for the public.
“So for that reason, I talked to him to say that any disqualification must start from the day following the decision. He reassured me that there would no big problems for the Giro.”
Alberto Contador had his 2011 Giro title stripped later due to a case stemming from the 2010 Tour de France.
However, the circumstances and substance were different from Froome’s, but Vegni still wants to avoid a similar situation.
Subsequent to Vegni’s comments, the UCI issued a brief statement on social media on Thursday afternoon, underlining that the UCI president is not responsible for deciding on doping sanctions.
The statement on the UCI’s Twitter account read: “The UCI wishes to clarify that the UCI President is not in a position to decide when a potential suspension for any anti-doping rule violation should start and whether results obtained before the starting point of a suspension should be annulled or maintained.”
Froome announced in November before the case surfaced that he would race for the Giro d’Italia victory for the first time.
The four-time Tour de France champion, according to a Cycling Weekly source close to the matter, will receive €1.4 million for participating. The money is said to be coming out of the estimated €10 million Israel is paying to host the three-day big start.
“There was no bargaining with Froome,” Vegni said. “Maybe the English translation was wrong when we said that we were ‘negotiating’ with him. Besides, I deal with the teams and never individually with the riders, and that’s how it was this time too.”
Such deals take place with individuals, though. RCS Sport said it made a deal with Lance Armstrong in 2009, when Angelo Zomegnan presided. It paid around $1 million to his Livestrong charity.
Smaller deals are said to have happened with Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali over the years.