Tour de France organisers are planning to deny Chris Froome a place in this year’s race if his salbutamol case has not been resolved.
The four-time Tour champion returned an adverse finding for the asthma drug salbutamol during his winning ride at last year’s Vuelta a Espana.
Froome denies any wrongdoing and is continuing to race for Team Sky as is his right under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s rules. His team of lawyers and scientists are working on an explanation for the adverse sample, which contained twice the allowed concentration of the drug.
The president of world cycling’s governing body the UCI, David Lappartient, wants such major events to refrain from making such big decisions, and expressed hope that Froome’s case would be resolved “quickly”.
The urgency has been highlighted after two senior cycling sources said that ASO, the French company that runs the Tour, has no intention of letting a rider compete with a potential anti-doping violation hanging over them.
Team Sky are understood to have received no communication from UCI or ASO that Froome would be barred from the Tour should his case not have concluded.
The team issued a statement that read: “As Chris has said, he wants to see this process resolved as quickly as possible. Chris and the team are continuing to do all we can to achieve this.”
ASO is confident that it could resist any legal challenge from Team Sky as it has clauses in its rules about safeguarding the image of the race.
Exclusion from the Tour would be a bitter blow for Froome, who is chasing a fourth straight victory in cycling’s most famous race and a record-equalling fifth win in total.
Lappartient has confirmed that Froome’s salbutamol case will not be heard before the 32-year-old Briton competes at the Giro d’Italia, which starts on May 4. The Tour de France runs from July 7 to July 29.