British rider Chris Froome yesterday was cleared of doping allegations and authorized to compete in the Tour de France after organizers lifted a ban on the four-time winner.
Kenyan-born Froome, 33, said he is now looking forward to attempting to win a fifth Tour de France when it gets underway on Saturday.
“I am very pleased that the UCI [Union Cycliste Internationale] has exonerated me”, Froome said after the sport’s ruling body said a probe into Froome had been dropped.
The UCI announced the decision a day after Tour de France organizers barred him from taking part in this year’s edition of world cycling’s biggest race over doping suspicions.
Froome’s appeal against the ban was scheduled to be heard today by the French Olympic Committee in Paris, but within hours of the UCI announcement, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said that the organizers had dropped their opposition to him taking part.
“We were awaiting this decision [from the UCI] and now he has been cleared,” Prudhomme said. “When we are told he has done nothing wrong we are obviously not going to maintain [the ban]. It’s just a shame the decision came so late.”
Team Sky general manager Dave Brailsford said the way was now clear for Saturday’s start of the three-week Tour from the Vendee.
“Today’s ruling draws a line. It means we can all move on and focus on the Tour de France,” Brailsford said.
Earlier, the Swiss-based UCI confirmed it had cleared Froome of doping suspicions that have circulated since he was found to have twice the permissible amount of the legal asthma drug Salbutamol in his system during September last year’s Vuelta a Espana, which he won.
Froome recorded an adverse analytical finding for Salbutamol, meaning he exceeded the allowed dose of a permitted substance.
The abnormal result triggered disciplinary proceedings by the UCI during which “Mr Froome exercised his right to prove that his abnormal result was the consequence of a permitted use,” the UCI’s statement added.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) informed the UCI four days ago that Froome’s sample results did not in fact constitute an adverse analytical finding.
“The UCI has considered all the relevant evidence in detail,” the statement said. “In light of WADA’s unparallelled access to information and authorship of the salbutamol regime, the UCI has decided, based on WADA’s position, to close the proceedings against Mr Froome.”
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