Froome takes re­spon­si­bil­ity for test miss

Staff at lux­ury Ital­ian ho­tel re­fused to al­low anti-dop­ing team ac­cess to star’s room

The Herald - Sport - - CYCLING - MATT MCGEE­HAN

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

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