LONDON. – The handling of Chris Froome’s adverse drugs test by cycling authorities is a “scandal” and a “double standard” is being applied, says four-time world time trial champion Tony Martin. Four-time Tour de France winner Froome had double the allowed level of legal asthma drug salbutamol in his urine during September’s Vuelta a Espana win. German Martin said the Briton should have been suspended for the subsequent World Championships in September, where Froome went on to win two bronze medals in the individual and team time trials.
“I am totally angry,” said Martin. “There is definitely a double standard being applied.”
Katusha-Alpecin rider Martin (32) suggested other cyclists would have been suspended immediately.
However, under governing body UCI’s anti-doping rules, the presence of specified substances like salbutamol in a sample does not result in a mandatory provisional suspension and the body has asked Froome for more detail.
Froome, who became only the third man to win the Tour and Vuelta in the same season this year, was notified of the adverse analytical finding, from a test on September 7, on September 20 – the same day he won individual time trial bronze at the World Championships.
The 32-year-old was also part of the Team Sky squad that won bronze in the team time trial race on September 17.
“He and his team are given time by the UCI to explain it all, I do not know of any similar case in the recent past,” said Martin, who finished ninth in the individual time trial in Bergen, Norway.
“That is a scandal, and he should at least not have been allowed to appear in the World Championships.”
Martin added he had the “impression that there is wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes” and questioned whether Team Sky and Froome enjoy a “special status”.
When asked by BBC Sport if he was made aware of Froome’s adverse test while he was UCI president, Brian Cookson denied he had any “role or influence” in the case. The former British Cycling president, whose four-year tenure ended on 21 September when he lost the election to David Lappartient, added that under procedures he introduced, anti-doping matters were handled by the independent Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation and the Legal Anti Doping Service.
“As UCI President I therefore had no role or influence in any individual case,” said Cookson,
“I had then, and still have today, confidence in the integrity of all those involved, that they would always follow the correct procedures in every case, and that no rider was treated in any way differently from any other.”
Martin added that the UCI’s actions were a “major blow to the difficult anti-doping fight” he said he is leading alongside the likes of compatriot and team-mate Marcel Kittel.
“We need a consequent and transparent approach by the UCI. What is going on here is inconsequent, not transparent, unprofessional and unfair,” he said. – BBC Sport.