Cycling-Tour champion Froome says clear of parasitic disease

LONDON, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Tour de France champion Chris Froome has been cleared of the parasitic disease bilharzia that has troubled him for four years, he told Friday's Independent newspaper in an interview. The 28-year-old Briton said he had been suffering with the disease, which is caused by parasites living in fresh water such as rivers or lakes, and had been having treatment since 2009. "At last I am free of the debilitating disease bilharzia," said the Kenya-born Froome, who this year became the second Briton to win the Tour de France after Bradley Wiggins in 2012. "I had a test when I went back to Kenya recently and it is the first time it has come back negative since the diagnosis (in 2009). That is fantastic news for me. I'm not going to have to worry about that any more. That should be it gone now. "I have been going back every six months for the past two years and returning positive results. "When I was first diagnosed they said it had been in my system for at least two years, but it could have been there even longer, five or six years possibly." Froome will begin his quest to retain the Tour de France title next year when the race starts in England on July 5. (Writing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Peter Rutherford)