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Froome questions persist despite Wada’s statement on handling of case

The Guardian logo The Guardian 12/07/2018 Jeremy Whittle in Brest

The UCI waived a pharmacokinetic study, which would have attempted to recreate the conditions surrounding Chris Froome’s adverse sample taken during the 2017 Vuelta a España. © Getty Images The UCI waived a pharmacokinetic study, which would have attempted to recreate the conditions surrounding Chris Froome’s adverse sample taken during the 2017 Vuelta a España. Chris Froome and Team Sky will be hoping that the lengthy statement published last night by the World Anti-Doping Agency, clarifying the circumstances around the decision to drop his salbutamol case, finally defuses the tense and fractious atmosphere around the defending Tour de France champion.

Sky’s team principal, Dave Brailsford, has been pressuring both Wada and the UCI president, David Lappartient, to explain their decision more fully as the atmosphere of hostility from French fans towards Froome continues.

Yet inconsistencies remain, which will concern those who have both the time – and energy – to trawl through the latest in a long line of statements from the UCI, Wada, and Froome’s team.

Most striking is the Wada reliance on the UCI’s decision to waive a pharmacokinetic study, attempting to recreate the conditions surrounding Froome’s sample from last year’s Vuelta a España, which was not even considered worth mentioning in the UCI’s original statement issued on 2 July that cleared Froome.

Daniel Oss of Italy and Team Bora Hansgrohe / Christopher Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky rides in the peloton during stage five of the 105th Tour de France 2018, a 204,5km stage from Lorient to Quimper on July 11, 2018 in Quimper, France. © Chris Graythen/Getty Images Daniel Oss of Italy and Team Bora Hansgrohe / Christopher Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky rides in the peloton during stage five of the 105th Tour de France 2018, a 204,5km stage from Lorient to Quimper on July 11, 2018 in Quimper, France. Christopher Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky / Alejandro Valverde of Spain and Movistar Team / Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium and BMC Racing Team in the yellow race leader jersey rides in the peloton during stage five of the 105th Tour de France 2018, a 204,5km stage from Lorient to Quimper on July 11, 2018 in Quimper, France. © Chris Graythen/Getty Images Christopher Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky / Alejandro Valverde of Spain and Movistar Team / Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium and BMC Racing Team in the yellow race leader jersey rides in the peloton during stage five of the 105th Tour de France 2018, a 204,5km stage from Lorient to Quimper on July 11, 2018 in Quimper, France.

In contrast, Diego Ulissi of Italy was subjected to a nine-month ban after his pharmacokinetic study, following a similar adverse analytical finding on stage 11 of the 2014 Giro d’Italia, failed to convince the UCI.

In Froome’s case however Wada stated that the UCI accepted that a pharmacokinetic study “would not have provided reliable evidence as it would be impossible to adequately recreate similar conditions to when Froome was subjected to the test, taking into account his physical condition, which included an illness, exacerbated asthmatic symptoms, dose escalation over a short period of time, dehydration and the fact that he was midway through a multi-day road cycling race”.

Yet that position was undermined last weekend when Lappartient said: “Froome had more financial support to find good experts.” Speaking to the Guardian, he added: “It’s not just in cycling, that’s global justice. That’s democracy, you can’t prevent somebody from spending money on legal defence by capping it.”

Those comments angered Brailsford, who responded: “That’s a cop out. Justice is justice and whether you are in the smallest team in the professional peloton or the biggest one, the justice and the rules that apply to you should be the same and fair. There should be no issue whatsoever there.”

Supporters of Britain's Chris Froome wait for the start of the fourth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 195 kilometers (121 miles) with start in La Baule and finish in Sarzeau, France, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. © AP Photo/Peter Dejong Supporters of Britain's Chris Froome wait for the start of the fourth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 195 kilometers (121 miles) with start in La Baule and finish in Sarzeau, France, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Christopher Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky / Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland and Team Sky / Geraint Thomas of Great Britain and Team Sky / Vay City / Landscape / Peloton / Church / Fans / Public / during the 105th Tour de France 2018, Stage 4 a 195km stage from La Baule to Sarzeau / TDF / on July 10, 2018 in Sarzeau, France. © Tim de Waele/Getty Images Christopher Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky / Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland and Team Sky / Geraint Thomas of Great Britain and Team Sky / Vay City / Landscape / Peloton / Church / Fans / Public / during the 105th Tour de France 2018, Stage 4 a 195km stage from La Baule to Sarzeau / TDF / on July 10, 2018 in Sarzeau, France.

The Wada statement – published 20 minutes before England kicked off against Croatia in the World Cup semi-final – firmly puts responsibility for the outcome of Froome’s case at the UCI’s door, saying that “from start to finish” the UCI was “solely and exclusively in charge of the procedure and dealt with all procedural aspects of the case.”

However Wada asserted that cycling’s world governing body had reached “the right and fair outcome on this very complex case”.

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According to the statement, the combination of Froome’s “within-subject variability for salbutamol excretion, the sudden and significant increase in salbutamol dosage prior to the doping control, and the number of consecutive doping controls meant that the analytical result could not be considered inconsistent with the ingestion of a permissible dose of inhaled salbutamol.

“In the Froome case, the test was applied the same as for any other athlete by looking at the unique physiological and circumstantial details that could be clearly determined. Froome was able to show the UCI Tribunal how it was possible that he took a permitted dose of salbutamol.”

According to Wada, between 2013-17, of the 41 completed cases that involved salbutamol as the only substance, 21 out of 41 resulted in suspensions. Yet only four of the 57 completed cases had been within road cycling.

Related: Best of the Tour de France 2018 (USA Today Sports)

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