McQuaid: Froome's salbutamol case is 'troubling and worrying'

Former UCI head doubts Team Sky can keep credibility

Speaking to the BBC News, former UCI president Pat McQuaid said he was shocked by Chris Froome's adverse analytical finding (AAF) for salbutamol, and opined that it would be "very hard" for Froome to avoid being served a ban in the case.

Froome tested at twice the allowed limit for the asthma medication en route to winning the Vuelta a Espana. He said his asthma worsened during the race, and he followed the team doctor's advise to incease his dosage. He insisted that he did not exceed the permissable dose and that he broke no rules.

McQuaid disagreed.

"The fact is, he has broken a rule," McQuaid told the BBC. "The fact is his urine sample was twice the permitted limit. It's up to him to go and prove that he could have done otherwise."

McQuaid also took the opportunity to level criticism at his successor as UCI president, Brian Cookson, and Team Sky.

McQuaid pointed out that Froome's AAF came under Cookson's presidency - Froome was notified of the finding one day before David Lappartient won the election - and says Cookson would have been informed about the case.

"If a result comes through from the laboratory that a big, big rider has provided an adverse analytical sample then the president is involved, so he would have been aware," McQuaid told the BBC.

McQuaid also criticized Cookson for his defense of Team Sky earlier this month. "It really surprised me what Brian said about Sky getting their credibility back when all the time he knew that this thing was going on in the background," McQuaid said.

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Following the conclusion of UKAD's investigation into Team Sky and British Cycling, which ended without any rule violations charged, Cookson called for Team Sky's reputation to be "reinstated".

Cookson also defended Team Sky's 'marginal gains' focus, saying, "I don't think anyone should be surprised when a professional sports team pushes the rules right to the very limit."

McQuaid said he was confused by Cookson's statements.

"How Brian, knowing all of those facts, could turn around and say, 'You need to hand their credibility back to Team Sky', I just don't understand it, it's beyond me."

Cookson denied having any "role or influence" in Froome's case as UCI president.

McQuaid was equally critical of Team Sky, saying, "They've had a very difficult 15 months, when they set out to be the team that is the clean team, that was going to bring back the credibility of cycling and they certainly have gone in the opposite direction this year.

"They haven't achieved what they set out to achieve. They are a team with by far the biggest budget in cycling and they can afford all of the experts and all of the medical back-up and all of the things that a lot of teams can't afford, and they find themselves in this situation today.

"It's going to be very difficult to see how they can come out of this with any credibility at all to be honest with you. It begs a lot of questions."

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