Tom Van Damme has voiced his opinion with regard to Chris Froome's adverse analytical finding (AAF) for salbutamol telling Belgian media outlet Sporza.be that Team Sky and Froome run the risk of making the sport of cycling worse should he compete during his on-going investigation.
"Team Sky and Chris Froome urgently need to stand in front of a mirror," Van Damme said. "Whether the UCI has to act faster - the UCI is bound by rules - moral responsibility lies with Team Sky and Froome - they have to stand in front of the mirror, because the longer this takes, the worse for cycling."
Van Damme has been the Belgian cycling president and UCI Road Commission president since 2010. He has also been a member of the UCI Management Committee and Professional Cycling Council from 2013. In 2017, he was also an early candidate to run against Brian Cookson for the position of UCI President.
Froome returned an AAF at the Vuelta a España for twice the permissible 1,000ng/mL level of the asthma medication salbutamol. The test took place September 7 following stage 18, before Froome went on to win the overall title.
Salbutamol is a 'specified substance' on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list and so Froome was not provisionally suspended. To avoid being hit with an anti-doping rule violation, Froome and his legal team must convince the authorities that he did not exceed permitted dosage and that his sample was skewed by other factors such as dehydration.
Sky Team Principal Dave Brailsford has said, "There are complex medical and physiological issues which affect the metabolism and excretion of salbutamol. I have the utmost confidence that Chris followed the medical guidance in managing his asthma symptoms, staying within the permissible dose for salbutamol."
While the investigation is on-going, and Froome and his legal team prepare their case, he is within the rules to continue racing.
Van Damme, however, believes that Team Sky are making things worse for themselves and for the sport of cycling by allowing Froome to continue to compete during the on-going case, even if they are within their rights to do so.
"Cycling has gained credibility in recent years," Van Damme said. "It is unfortunate that a problem in the gray zone is now being enlarged, unfortunately we have to follow the rules of WADA.
"It is a pity that Froome and his team are going to grow a small pimple into an abscess, it will only get worse."
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