By Sports writer
Kenyan-raised British cyclist, Chris Froome has turned to the one of the world’s leading anti-doping lawyers in a bid to avoid a potential 12-month ban for a failed drugs test.
In what amounts to another major doping controversy for Team Sky, Froome and his employers confirmed in a statement early on Wednesday that an adverse analytical finding had been found during the Vuelta a Espana in September.
Froome was found to have double the permitted levels of the asthma drug, salbutamol, in a test taken after the 18th stage of the Spanish grand Tour on September 7. The 32-year-old four-time Tour de France champion went on to complete a historic double by winning the Vuelta.
Froome’s urine test from the Vuelta a Espana contained double the allowed dose of salbutamol, it has emerged. He is pictured after winning the race in Madrid on September 10.
Froome’s medical and legal team have to present their case to the UCI. If unsuccessful he is likely to be stripped of his Vuelta title and serve a ban that could rule him out of the 2018 Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
In response to such a threat Froome and Team Sky have turned to Mike Morgan, the London-based lawyer who successfully represented Lizzie Armitstead in her case against UK Anti-Doping ahead of last year’s Rio Olympics — after she committed a third whereabouts failure. He has also been hired by Russian athletes and their Olympic Committee during the doping crisis.
A team of medical experts will also work with Froome, who was actually notified of the failed test on September 20, and perform a battery of tests in a bid to show the high levels of salbutamol could have been in his system without exceeding the permitted dosages.
Salbutamol can be taken using an inhaler without the need for a Therapeutic Use Exemption but the World Anti-Doping Agency rules set a limit of 1,000 nanograms per millilitre of the asthma drug. Froome was found to have 2,000.
Sources close to Froome, currently on a training camp in Mallorca, say he was unwell for two or three days prior to stage 18 and was suffering with a tight chest when he finished riding that day in Santo Toribio de Liebana and, under the guidance of Team Sky doctor Derick Macleod, had three more puffs.