Greg LeMond has spoken out on Chris Froome's salbutamol case, arguing that the Tour de France and Vuelta a España winner is solely accountable for what's in his system, and labelling his predicted defence as "ridiculous".
Froome returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for salbutamol at the Vuelta in September, when twice the permitted level of the asthma medication was found in his urine.
As salbutamol is a 'specified' substance on WADA's prohibited list, Froome has not been provisionally suspended but will face a ban unless he can convince the anti-doping authorities that he did not exceed permitted dosage and his sample was skewed by other factors.
"The fallacy that salbutamol does not improve performance is only true if you use it as prescribed. Taken orally or by injection it acts as an anabolic steroid, similar to clenbuterol, the drug that Alberto Contador was positive for," said LeMond.
"It's the athlete's responsibility for following the rules. As for the use of salbutamol, it's up to Chris Froome to be responsible for what he puts into his body. He alone is responsible. The peloton relies on the equal application of the rules. If these are not followed, it undermines the sport."
Froome and Team Sky have denied exceeding the permitted dosages, and their defense is likely to center on the variables in the metabolism of salbutamol, which can differ from person to person and according to environmental factors such as dehydration. It has been suggested that Froome will argue that he took three puffs of his inhaler just before providing his sample to anti-doping after stage 18 of the Vuelta.
"Give me a break," LeMond said in blunt riposte.
"That is the most ridiculous excuse I have ever heard. If this is what he claims, then it's simple, he broke the rules and should be punished accordingly."
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'Brailsford is secretive'
LeMond also delivered a damning criticism of Team Sky more generally. The British team was created with a commitment to transparency and riding clean but their credibility has been called into question over the years, most notably by the 'jiffy bag' scandal surrounding Bradley Wiggins.
"You have to look at Froome's AAF in context of everything around Team Sky. The comments from Shane Sutton, admitting that the team would push things right to the limit, the lost records, the jiffy bag," LeMond told The Times.
"I don't believe in Dave Brailsford. He's secretive, he skirts around questions, and from what I read and hear, the team is not as scientific and as knowledgeable as they claim to be.
"It pains me to hear Brailsford and the team dismiss real science as pseudoscience, always a red flag as far as I am concerned. As history has shown, when things are too good to be true, they usually are."