Already under pressure while star rider Chris Froome tries to clear his name in an anti-doping investigation into an adverse finding for salbutamol at the 2017 Vuelta a España, Team Sky could “implode” if Froome is handed a ban, according to former US Postal rider and confessed drug cheat Floyd Landis.
Froome’s lawyers are likely to argue that a “kidney malfunction” led to Froome delivering an adverse analytical finding for a high concentration of salbutamol after stage 17 of the Vuelta, but Landis says that he still expects the four-time Tour winner to receive a ban, and for this to have serious consequences for the future of Team Sky.
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“When you have someone that high profile who suffers a ban it usually means the whole thing implodes,” Landis told The Guardian.
“If I was on the board of directors or an executive at Sky or any of the companies who sponsor them I would be long gone. At some point they have to make a decision that looks ethical.”
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Landis, who now runs a business that produces and sells cannabis-based products, also commented on other recent controversies surrounding Team Sky and British Cycling, such as Shane Sutton’s comment that therapeutic use exemptions could be used as a form of marginal gains.
“We can take from what Shane has said they were at least pushing the limit with certain things,” Landis continued. “Now, with Froome’s failed test, if you take all those things together, there’s no defending that team. Any reasonable person would have more questions.
“There’s no belief in that zero tolerance system any more; that was never a real thing. It was just great PR about marginal gains and all these cute little sayings they thought up.”
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, he is not subject to a provisional suspension, leaving the possibility that he could race the 2018 Giro d’Italia and Tour de France with the investigation still ongoing.