Chris Froome has insisted that he followed the correct process in applying for a therapeutic use exemption for the corticosteroid prednisone during the Tour de Romandie earlier this season.
French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reported that UCI medical supervisor Dr. Michele Zorzoli had fast-tracked a TUE application from Team Sky during the Swiss race, a claim that was rebutted by the governing body in a statement released on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking after the final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Froome confirmed that he had successfully applied for a TUE to treat the chest infection that had already prevented him from taking part in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
“At the time I was coming back from a training camp at altitude and I was supposed to participate in Liège-Bastogne-Liège but I was coughing too much and the morning of the race the doctor told me that I had to pull out if I wanted to go to the Tour de Romandie and that I needed to rest for two days,” Froome said, according to L’Équipe.
“I gave everything I had in the Romandie prologue but I was coughing so much that we decided to ask for a TUE that evening. It was just an oral [corticosteroid], there was no injection.”
Froome rejected the idea that he had received favourable treatment from Zorzoli and the UCI during the TUE application process. He also defended the decision to continue in the race with the aid of prednisone rather than pull out and treat his ailment with rest. Froome went on to win the Tour de Romandie.
“We went through the legitimate process and the UCI has confirmed that today. It’s a pity that everything is perceived in a negative light,” he said. “Therapeutic use exemptions have their place in sport. They exist for a reason.”
Froome was speaking after he slipped from second to 12th overall on the final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné. After setting his Sky team to work to close down the day’s early break, he was unable to follow when Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) attacked on the penultimate climb, the Côte de Montagny.
He finished the stage in 20th place, 5:05 down on winner and teammate Mikel Nieve, and blamed his low-key showing on the effects of his crash in the finale of Friday’s stage.
“I was completely blocked in my thighs and I wasn’t able to use the same muscles as normal when there were accelerations,” he said. “Alberto has shown a very good level this week but I think that we can take a lot of positives out of it too. I won two stages, Mikel won one and we held the yellow jersey for six days.”