The UCI has dropped all doping charges against Chris Froome, will not be pursuing further investigation, and Froome will be riding at the Tour de France.
While we’d had no update on Chris Froome’s adverse analytical finding, in spite of his Giro win, the case had apparently continued privately. As it should have. However, as I wrote during the Giro, allowing the case to go on through all of this put a damper on the race and made the sport appear more like a soap opera than something to be taken seriously.
Perhaps fearing the same, or as a demonstration of contempt for the procedure, or to play up to the anti-Froome crowd, ASO (the organisers of the Tour de France) issued a statement on Sunday that Froome would be excluded from the race. They cited the regulations of the Tour, which state that the organiser ‘expressly reserves the right to refuse the participation in – or disqualify from – the event, a team or one of its members whose presence is liable to damage the image or reputation of ASO or those of the event.’ A hearing was set for Tuesday for Sky to appeal.
By the next day, the UCI had responded. You can read their full statement here, but the message is this: Chris Froome has violated no rules, is innocent of the alleged doping violation, and there will be no further investigation. Case closed.
As expected, ASO (via Christian Prudhomme) confirmed shortly afterwards that Froome is now clear to race the Tour. WADA also released a statement saying that they will not appeal the UCI’s ruling.
Those are the facts.
Just like before, I put no blame with Froome for the investigation itself. The rule makers have decided that no rules are broken. If someone isn’t breaking the rules, and you don’t like how they’re winning, you need to work to change the rules – not to attack those who are working within them.
Case in point: I don’t think it’s ‘right’ that riders are using Tramadol inappropriately. But if it’s not against the rules, how could I hold that against one rider personally?
It’s a relief that the investigation is over before the start of the Tour. But it does raise a lot of questions to which I have no answer.
Like it or not, Chris Froome could only prove his innocence because of Sky’s enormous budget. Alessandro Petacchi is a prime example of a rider who has fallen on the wrong side of this. That doesn’t change Froome’s position, and hopefully his ‘proof’ that the test is unreliable could help more riders avoid incorrect results in future. But does it feel ‘fair’? What would feel fair?
Lots of people feel strongly about Chris Froome and this case, as well as Team Sky in general. Unfortunately, most of this is directed personally at Froome and the team, rather than trying to change the rules they don’t like. I’m not sure what can be achieved by attacking a team who are obeying the rules. Hooliganism and melodrama is not a long-term fix, and is (to me) much more damaging to my enjoyment of the sport than an unscrupulous team with an enormous budget.
Don’t hate the player, hate the game.