It will be ‘very difficult’ for Britain’s Chris Froome to avoid a ban over his abnormal drugs test sample at the end of last year, according to a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).
Froome, who completed a clean sweep of all three of cycling’s Grand Tours on Sunday by winning the Giro d’Italia with a remarkable comeback ride, was revealed to have double the permitted amount of salbutamol in his unrine during last year’s Vuelta a Espana.
Despite pressure from cycling’s governing body, the UCI, Team Sky resisted calls to suspend their lead rider and instead maintained his innocence, allowing him to go on and successfully compete in the Giro.
Jack Anderson, a member of Cas and a professor for sports law at the University of Melbourne, believes there is precedent to ban Froome over the abnormal test but doubts that it will be settled before he attempts to win a fifth Tour de France on 7th July.
When asked by cyclingtips.com whether Froome will likely be banned, he said: “Based on the precedent you would imagine yes, that that would be the case. It’s very difficult to make the argument they’re making. But I have to say: they’re absolutely entitled to make it and they will give significant resources to it.
“One of the things they’ll argue is that the ban should be backdated quite a bit and all these other factors which came into play. There’s a complexity there but ultimately that decision will be made by the UCI[‘s anti-doping arm].”
It is also highly unclear whether any results Froome has recorded during this time would be scrapped from the history books, should he be found guilty and banned.
“The situation is unclear but it seems if Froome gets a ban, then he will definitely lose the Vuelta title from September 2017, as that was when the tests showed his [salbutamol levels were too high].
“If, as he could have done under the UCI rules, he opted to “self provisionally suspend” after the Vuelta, and remained self-suspended while this legal process was ongoing, he could then have used his period of self-suspension to get any sanction backdated to the date of the adverse test (September 7). He didn’t do that as he wanted to ride and win in the World Champs, Giro etc.
“This possibly puts Froome’s World and Giro titles into play. Whether the UCI independent arbitrator would do this is a matter for him.”