Landis says Chris Froome salbutamol case could doom Team Sky

American's doping positive ended Phonak

Floyd Landis, whose doping disqualification from the 2006 Tour de France led to the end of Team Phonak, says Chris Froome's salbutamol case could have a similar devastating effect on Team Sky.

The American, who tested positive for exogenous testosterone after winning the Tour, went on to admit to doping and become a whistleblower whose testimony helped to get Lance Armstrong banned for life.

Should Froome be banned, Landis says, it could lead to the entire team's downfall.

"When you have someone that high profile who suffers a ban it usually means the whole thing implodes," Landis said to The Guardian. "If I was on the board of directors or an executive at Sky or any of the companies who sponsor them I would be long gone. At some point, they have to make a decision that looks ethical."

Team Sky began in 2010 with a strict zero-tolerance policy after a spate of high-profile doping positives in the sport, one that led to several staff members including Steven de Jongh and Bobby Julich leaving the team when their past involvement in doping became public.

Landis believes the policy was nothing more than a PR stunt. "There's no belief in that 'zero tolerance' system anymore; that was never a real thing it was just great PR about marginal gains and all these cute little sayings they thought up," Landis said.

Team Sky was heavily criticized after hackers released Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) applications for Bradley Wiggins for the steroid Triamcinolone acetonide - a drug that he legally used to treat severe allergies but can be performance enhancing.

Landis sees Froome's case as another example of Sky stretching the limits. "We can take from what Shane has said they were at least pushing the limit with certain things and now with Froome's failed test," Landis said. "If you take all those things together, there's no defending that team. Any reasonable person would have more questions."

Tour de France third-place finisher Romain Bardet has called on Froome to not race until his case is resolved, and Giro d'Italia and Tour de France organisers also hope to avoid another situation like that of Alberto Contador, where a rider could win their race during a pending doping case only to be later disqualified. Froome is technically free to race and continues to train for the season while trying to prove to the UCI and WADA that he did not break the rules.

"He's trying to defend himself because he has everything to lose. I feel sympathy for him but if he doesn't face it now he will have to later," Landis said.

To Landis, the case only confirms his view that the anti-doping authorities aren't out to catch cheaters.

"WADA is designed to protect the Olympic committee," he said, "they're not designed to catch people using PED's and here we are again. It's been 11 years but the one thing that bothers me is I went through all that and accomplished nothing. I think Lance feels the same way and he has a right to. If you're going to take us out and say 'these guys are the bad guys,' you can't just sit back on your hands and let things return to exactly the way it was."  

The Cyclingnews Podcast in association with Prendas Ciclismo and Pinarello

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