Dave Brailsford has defended the decision not to suspend Chris Froome as he spoke for the first time about the four time Tour De France winner’s failed drugs test.
The Team Sky principal has come under pressure from cycling’s governing body the UCI to suspend Froome from riding as scientists and lawyers acting on his behalf seek to explain why double the permitted amount of the asthma drug, salbutamol, was recorded in his system.
But Brailsford was adamant that no anti-doping rule violation had been committed by Froome, who could face a ban and being stripped of his Vuelta a España title, the race he won after producing an adverse finding from a urine test last September.
READ MORE: Giants to retire Barry Bonds’ number 25
“For me, there’s no question, he’s done nothing wrong – no question,” Brailsford said, speaking to reporters at the Colombia Oro y Paz race in South America.
“This situation, it’s difficult. We want the UCI to lead the sport, we’ve got the WADA rules, then obviously we’ve got the team and the individual, and my role is to look after the team and the individual, but also I’ve got to think about the sport in general. But I believe he’s innocent.”
An investigation by the Guardian and Le Monde revealed in December that Froome had failed a test but five months into the process, Team Sky are yet to prove a legitimate physiological reason for the finding. Froome will race for the first time since news of the failed test was made public at the Ruta del Sol in Spain next week.
“It should still be confidential,” Brailsford added, “it should never have been made public at this point and everyone is entitled to a fair process. That’s why I think, at the minute, the approach we’ve taken is to support him and make sure we do what we can to have a fair process, even though I do understand it’s a very difficult situation for everyone.”
Froome is entered for the Giro d’Italia in May and intends to ride in this year’s Tour De France even if the case remains unresolved. But Brailsford insisted a swift resolution is in Team Sky’s best interests.
“We want it to be as fast as possible,” he said. “The longer it is, for us and Chris himself, the more difficult it is. But, equally, it needs to be done correctly and there’s a process.”