Christophe Bassons has spoken out about Chris Froome’s Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), which allowed him to take Prednisone to help with a chest infection prior to the Tour of Romandie. In a story posted in The Telegraph, he compared the British rider’s and Team Sky’s mentality to that of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and US Postal Service.
Bassons, who Armstrong humiliated at the 1999 Tour for speaking out about doping in the sport, believes that the anti-doping regulations may have become more rigid with the biological passport system and the newly instated independent reform commission (CIRC) but that the culture of professional bike racing is similar to what it was during the height of Armstrong’s career.
Bassons said that Team Sky and Foome have already pushed those limits with the controversial TUE that Froome received on short notice for the use of Prednisone to treat a chest infection prior to the start of the Tour of Romandie, a race that he went on to win.
“You look at Sky and what they are doing. And [Alberto] Contador,” Bassons told The Telegraph. “I ask myself a lot of questions about Team Sky. The fact is Froome showed his mentality by taking this product [prednisone]. He had a problem, he was ill and he took this product. He eliminated the obstacle to him winning. It’s not that different from taking EPO because you’re tired and your haematocrit is low.
“I know the mentality hasn’t changed because if they had the riders would be telling us what TUEs they’d had. What vitamins they are on. They would talk a lot more but they are scared to.”
Bassons also said that Bjarne Riis, who is now the director at Tinkoff-Saxo, and Laurent Jalabert, who is a cycling commentator on French television, should not have jobs in the sport.
“In 1999 Lance was far from alone in doping,” he said. “It’s not acceptable that people like Bjarne Riis are still in the sport when we are trying to restore the credibility of cycling. Look at Laurent Jalabert. We know now he was a doper and yet he is working as a cycling commentator on French television, on a public channel I pay for with my TV licence.”
Bassons left the sport in 2001 but he is at the start of the Tour de France in Leeds promoting the re-release of his book entitled A Clean Break, which was updated to include a chapter about Armstrong’s ban from the sport.