Froome takes responsibility for test miss
Staff at luxury Italian hotel refused to allow anti-doping team access to star’s room
CHRIS FROOME has admitted missing a drugs test, but accepted he was culpable and stressed it was always the athlete’s responsibility to ensure sport is drugs free.
Froome was subjected to innuendo and scrutiny while winning the 2013 Tour de France, but insisted when standing on the Paris podium his yellow jersey would stand the test of time.
The 30-year-old, who is preparing to lead Team Sky into this year’s Tour, which begins on July 4 in Utrecht, Holland, was tested “over 30 times in three weeks” as he secured the maillot jaune in the arguably the toughest endurance event in sport.
His missed test came earlier this year during a short break in Italy with wife Michelle, when staff at the luxury hotel where they were staying refused to allow anti-doping testers to disturb the couple.
Froome appealed, but the blot remains on his record.
Athletes must provide anti-doping officials with their whereabouts for one hour every day of the year and are sanctioned if they have three missed tests in a 12-month period.
Froome’s candid admission comes after it emerged double Olympic champion Mo Farah missed two drugs tests prior to London 2012.
The reports came soon after a BBC TV documentary alleged that Farah’s coach Alberto Salazar had practised doping techniques with American athlete Galen Rupp.
Farah has not been accused of doing anything wrong, while Salazar denies the allegations.
Froome, speaking by conference call from his base in Monaco, said: “Earlier this year I had a couple of recovery days and I took my wife down to quite an exclusive hotel in Italy.
“The first morning we were down there the authorities showed up at seven o’clock in the morning and the hotel wouldn’t give them access to our room. They also refused to let them call up to the room.
“When we came down for breakfast they said to us, ‘Oh, anti-doping guys were here to test you this morning, but it’s our policy not to let anyone disturb our clients’.
“That was a hugely frustrating situation for me. I did appeal it and try and explain the circumstances to the authorities, but at the end of the day I do take responsibility for that case.
“I should’ve been more proactive in letting the hotel know that this is a possibility that I could be tested. I’ve certainly learnt my lesson there.
“I’ve stayed in hotels all over the world and I’ve been tested in hotels all over the world without any issues at all.
“Unfortunately I just didn’t see this one coming. But it’s opened my eyes and I’m definitely going to be more proactive in the future.
“It’s always the athlete’s responsibility to make sure he or she is available for testing.”
Froome has previously spoken of his frustration that leading cyclists – including his Tour rivals Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador – have trained at altitude on the Mount Teide volcano in Tenerife without a visit from testers. That has changed.
“For me it was important to point that out to the authorities that it seemed to be a bit of an oversight,” Froome added.
“As far as I can see that has been rectified. This year up on Tenerife alone we were tested at least four times.”
The Italian hotel was more luxurious than some to which Froome’s Team Sky squad will be assigned at the Tour.
Under the Tour organisers’ system, riders could be in a five-star hotel one night and a far less desirable dwelling
I should’ve been more proactive in letting the hotel know that this is a possibility that I could be tested. I’ve certainly learnt my lesson there
with a lumpy mattress and no air conditioning the next.
Froome had hoped to avoid the lottery by st aying in a luxury motorhome, as his team-mate Richie Porte did during the Giro d’Italia last month, but the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, has subsequently amended regulations to make it clear riders must stay in hotels.
Froome, who crashed out of the 2014 Tour, expects an “epic battle” with defending champion Nibali, Contador and Nairo Quintana next month.
“(It is) probably the biggest battle we’ve seen for years in the Tour de France,” he added.
“All my rivals I respect, but I don’t fear anyone at this point.”
IT’S ON ME: Team Sky’s Chris Froome takes full responsibility for missing an anti-doping test and stresses all athletes should follow his lead